Joyful, engaged learning

Posted by Peggy Procter on 8/11/2022 10:00:00 AM

Head of School blog HOS retreat august 11 HOS Blog august 11 rafting

I sat beside the glorious Salmon River, in a circle of four comfy camp chairs, preparing for my daily morning reflection session with four school heads. Yes, that’s right - I participated in a six-day Heads rafting trip in Idaho that involved Class 3 and 4 rapids, sleeping under the stars for five nights, no cell service, and no showers or bathrooms. And it was exactly what the doctor ordered! Peace, quiet, pristine nature, comradery, and adventure!


The topic of the morning’s reflection was joy and the discussion question posed was “Share with your group a recent example of joy from the Headship.” We had five minutes to jot down ideas in our journal. For me, five minutes wasn’t nearly enough, as I created a LONG list of incredible moments from Echo Horizon: dancing around cars each morning at carpool, Burger Truck days, supporting our 6th grade leaders at Movie night, playing Dr. Procter the veterinarian at K recess each Friday, the Leadership Team yearly Halloween costume, my awesome Parent Association leaders, defeating Mr. Alvarado and Ms. Blount’s teams in the 6th-grade Olympics, listening to graduation speeches, gratitude walks at faculty meetings, the pride and joy I feel each time I watch our students present their work at a grade level showcase, and the list could go on and on.  I had no idea how I’d pick just one to share, but I figured that when my turn came, one would inspire me.   


As we went around the circle, we reached the third Head of School in my group, and she paused.  She stumbled a bit, saying that she wasn’t quite sure of the definition of joy, and we helped out by sharing some of our thoughts on the multitude of meanings of the word, which included:  

  • A feeling or state of happiness;

  • Experiencing pleasure and enjoyment;

  • Feeling at peace from a job well done;

  • Enjoying the company of others; having fun, humor, and laughter. 

After our suggestions, the Head of School simply nodded and said, “I can’t really think of any moments like that.”  


If I hadn’t been trying to keep a straight face, my jaw might have dropped or I might have gasped.  I was befuddled, distraught, shocked.  A wave of deep sadness overcame me as I thought about an elementary school where joy felt scarce, as I thought of this Head of School who wasn’t experiencing the great joys of education and community.   


At our leadership luncheon this week, I raised my glass to toast my team of amazing Echo Horizon educational leaders, who work so hard and who bring so much joy, love, and learning to our community each and every day. These leadership team members support our teachers to build joyful engaging curriculum; they seek curricular programs and technology that make learning fun; they create supervision schedules that ensure that our children feel safe and included on the yards; they plan events for our students, families, and community that bring us all together to celebrate friendship; they create videos that help our parents/guardians to get a glimpse of the joy that takes place daily in the classroom, to name a few.  


While I do love the lazy days and long nights of summer, I miss the pitter-patter of small feet in the hallways, the laughter and shrieks on the playground, the collaborative buzz of our classrooms, and the warm greetings from parents/guardians at carpool. We have so much joy and engagement in store for each and every member of the Echo Horizon community this school year, and we cannot wait to get started!  


With love and joy,