Today was the first day of pre-planning for the faculty and staff of The Davis Academy. A number of us “report” to Davis year-round, but the majority of our faculty came “back to school” today energized from a well-deserved summer break. Mingling at our opening breakfast, attending various meetings and other pre-planning activities, I found myself beyond inspired. Looking back on the day, I feel like I witnessed a miracle. A miracle? Sounds like hyperbole. Well, I’ll do my best to justify my word choice, but it’s a bit hard to describe.
During her opening remarks, our Head of School, Amy Shafron, closed by describing a visit to the Touro Synagogue in Newport, RI during her summer travels. Reading George Washington’s letter to the Jews which spoke of the importance of religious freedom, she thought about how our work at The Davis Academy is part of a great chain of responsibility. A chain that stretches back to Washington and even further.
Looking around the room I saw a truly diverse group of faculty and staff. I saw a team of people with unique stories and journeys, unique passions and talents, unique hopes and dreams, unique voices and unique faces. That such an exceptional group of people would converge for the purpose of teaching the children that are lucky enough to attend The Davis Academy is nothing short of miraculous in my eyes. The Jews of Newport wouldn’t believe their eyes if they walked into The Davis Academy, and it’s not because of the top notch facilities or abundant technology. It’s because of the people. And that starts with the faculty and staff that gathered today.
Over the course of the day I heard outrageous laughter. I watched teachers breaking bread with old friends and welcoming new colleagues. I saw pride in many eyes and witnessed deep listening. I heard challenging inquiry and respectful discussion. I heard vulnerability, honesty, and creativity. I heard colleagues extending beyond what might be considered their “job” to offer thoughts and ideas for the benefit of all. I heard people of different faiths expressing gratitude and singing together.
All this I experienced in a single day. A day, that I might add, was largely dedicated to the nuts and bolts of getting ready for the upcoming school year. A day where the primary constituents of The Davis Academy, the students, were physically absent (though very much on our minds!).
For these reasons and more I truly believe that this extraordinary team of individuals gathering daily for the shared purpose of fulfilling the mission of The Davis Academy and bringing our school’s menschlichkeit values to life is nothing short of a miracle. I dare you to disagree. Even more, I double-dare you to come and see for yourself.