Environments that bring out the best of ourselves

“I love you not only for what you are but for what I am when I am with you.” – Elizabeth Barrett Browning 

As you read this quote, you might find it odd that the head of Junior School refers to it in terms of a work environment, the “you” being TCS, rather than a romantic notion, as I am sure Elizabeth Barrett Browning meant it to be. But oddly enough, TCS is what came to mind when I stumbled upon this quote over the summer.

Early in my first year, I noted how the mantra, “work harder, care more,” often repeated by our headmaster, Mr. Grainger, really lived at TCS; people walk the talk, they work harder and care more. If everyone else was working harder, and caring more, then as a leader, I too best be doing the same, regardless of whether I was overwhelmed, tired, depleted, etc., because TCS deserved it. TCS had earned my respect.

But what kind of environment motivates people to be their best selves, to work harder and to care more? It may seem obvious, but perhaps obvious isn’t the right word, perhaps taken for granted is a better expression. Environments in which you can be your best self, and where you are motivated (and supported) to grow, are special.

TCS is a professional, communal, caring, hardworking, traditional yet innovative, place. Voices are heard, opinions matter, and habits of the heart and mind are not only valued, but they are explicitly taught and sought after. Folks who work in this type of environment want to do what is right for the sake of it being right, and that demonstrates integrity and respect. I am inspired to be a better leader, to listen to and act upon feedback, to make changes in how I lead, because those folks who are forging the path with me, have experience, they have institutional knowledge, and they care more about this place and the students than anything I have ever experienced. An environment that is supportive, where you can be vulnerable and make mistakes, is an environment in which you will grow. How lovely to think that this work ethic and care filter through to our students, who, every day, are greeted by a community of people who care, and then greet them back in return. The power of positive role modelling is tremendous.

So, do I love TCS for what it is? Yes. Do I think I am a better educator for being at TCS and learning from my colleagues? Definitely. Would I recommend becoming a part of this community? Certainly. We should all be grateful for reciprocal relationships that allow us to be proud of what we are, separate and together.

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