For the twenty years I was a student and for the 18 years that I’ve been in education, each and every May, I feel completely ready for summer. I often think on June 5 or so, I’ll never be ready to start the school year all over again. And yet, almost like magic, each and every year, I have come to the first day of school with a feeling of excitement. This year is certainly no exception. There are many reasons why THIS school year – beyond all others – seems filled with excitement and potential.
It’s impossible not to feel excitement as we embark on our Centennial celebration – an event that took 100 years to get here and 4 years of planning to execute.
It’s impossible not to feel excitement seeing our Residence students return to newly renovated dormitories.
It’s impossible not to feel excitement when you look out toward Forest Lane and see the hulking remains of our very own Parthenon and begin to imagine the beauty, functionality and imaginative teaching and learning that will rise from the rubble in the form of a new science building.
It’s impossible not to feel excitement when I look out at a sea of girls – 1,087 strong – knowing that each one joins the more than 10,000 alumnae of our School in claiming the title “Hockadaisy.”
But my excitement for this year doesn’t come from the Centennial or any of the events or even the construction. It comes from an absolute understanding that the thing that matters at Hockaday is the good work we do together. Howard Gardner defines good work as a “calling that combines excellent performance, expresses one’s ethics, and offers a pleasing sense of engagement.” Good work is, in essence, about finding joy in the pursuit of something meaningful in which you feel competent and engaged. Good work is what we do at Hockaday.
In this year of celebrations and construction and hubbub, it would be easy to forget that what matters is this good work. The good work of our daily interactions with each other will be remembered far beyond any fact, figure, or formula that we can teach or learn. Good work is what counts. It’s the reason we get up in the morning. It’s what makes Hockaday what it is. And it trumps everything else that vies for our attention.
To do good work requires us to take care of ourselves and to be present in the moment. To do good work means we look out for each other – as Miss Hockaday called us to do when she made character and courtesy two of her cornerstones 100 years ago. To do good work means we give our best, and we give ourselves and others permission to make mistakes and learn from them. To do good work is to appreciate each and every day as an opportunity to be a meaningful part of someone else’s journey.
In this – our Centennial year – let’s do good work, just a little bit each day.
It is my distinct privilege and honor to lead The Hockaday School in her Centennial year.