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Headmaster's Blog

School Culture

August 15, 2019
By Jay Adams

I took a few weeks off from updating the blog as we dealt with the end-of-summer enrollment rush.

But an enrollment rush is a great problem to have, so I felt it was worth it.

I can't say enough about how pleased I am with our students and staff for the way the first week and a half has gone; it's been smooth sailing each day, and the few minor glitches we've seen have been handled calmly and efficiently.

One thing I've been thinking about all summer (and for most of the past decade) is this: if education is a customer-service industry (and it definitely is), then what is the service we provide?

I think it's something bigger than merely classroom instruction. Edgewood has to be about more than simply getting spelling words and physics problems completed correctly. 

At teacher pre-planning this year, we talked a lot about school culture, because I think that's ultimately the service we provide our students. Edgewood is about more than selling access to an educational product; it's about providing access to a school culture that our students couldn't find anywhere else.


This blog post from Dr. Scott McLeod only takes five minutes to read, but it perfectly sums up my thoughts about where we're going to aim Edgewood in terms of school culture.  I hope you'll take a moment to read it, and I look forward to working with our students, faculty, and families as we continue building Edgewood into a place where students are constantly learning to love learning.

A Big Announcement

July 08, 2019
By Jay Adams

I hope everyone had a fantastic Independence Day.

In addition to writing the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson had strong thoughts on the virtues of general education. In fact, he believed that in order to preserve liberty, our society had to make sure that “those persons, whom nature has endowed with genius and virtue, should be rendered by liberal education worthy to receive, and able to guard the sacred deposit of the rights and liberties of their fellow citizens; and that they should be called to that charge without regard to wealth, birth or other accidental condition or circumstance.” (Emphasis mine.)

I’ve been thinking about that Jefferson quote a lot lately in regard to this announcement today. I’m very excited to announce that we’ll be introducing and evaluating a unique pilot program this year.

The Edgewood Academic Opportunity Program will provide reduced tuition to local students with a track record of academic excellence and demonstrated financial need. Our goal is to create access for any academically-driven student to afford an Edgewood education. This year, we will open up a limited number of seats to evaluate the program’s long-term viability at Edgewood. Students who are accepted into the program may reapply for the duration of their stay at Edgewood, even if we stop accepting new applicants.

Details are below, but the short version is this: If you have friends or family who would love to attend Edgewood, but don’t think they can afford it, we’ve now got a plan for them. If that’s all the info you need, scroll to the bottom to learn how they can apply.

For this first year, we’re opening 4 seats in each grade that has space available. This means some grades are already closed to the program, and some may close quickly as the July enrollment rush hits. To qualify, families must demonstrate financial need through the FACTS online tuition assessment program by submitting financial and tax records. In addition to financial need, students must meet at least one of the following academic criteria:

Grades 9-12, any of the following:

  • GPA of 3.75 or higher.
  • ACT score of 25 on Reading, Math, or Composite.
  • PSAT or Stanford Achievement Test score in 80th percentile on Reading, Math, or Composite.

Grades 1-8, one of the following:

  • PSAT or Stanford Achievement Test score in 80th percentile on Reading, Math, or Composite.
  • A/B honor roll the previous year with a numeric average of 87 or better.

Kindergarten:

  • Complete Edgewood entrance testing successfully.

There are many reasons I love this program, but here are a few of the highlights:

COMMUNITY OUTREACH: The Edgewood Opportunity program clearly demonstrates a commitment to our local community and our willingness to work to find a way to partner with anyone who’s willing to work for an Edgewood education. In short, we believe in what we do at Edgewood, we believe it provides immense value to our students, and we want to maximize our ability to impact more students.

INDEPENDENT VERIFICATION: The FACTS tuition assessment system is robust, used in thousands of schools across the country. This means all applicants’ financial information is documented and verified by a neutral third party. It also weeds out applicants who actually could afford our full tuition rate, but aren’t willing to pay full price.

BUDGET: Our expenses in a classroom are essentially the same, whether there are four empty chairs or eight empty chairs. This program lets us do a good thing for our community while also monetizing those empty chairs, which helps keep everyone’s tuition cost down in the long-term and stabilizes the school's revenue from year-to-year, making the board's job in budgeting and my job in planning much more efficient.

I can personally vouch for the effectiveness of this program; at my previous school, it was a joy to watch families who never dreamed they’d be able to afford private school come into our midst and have the lives of their students completely changed. That never got old, and it never will.

Here's how new families can apply:

If you already know someone who’ll be a great fit for this program (and I suspect many of you have already been thinking of names), you can send them this link to begin the application process: https://online.factsmgt.com/aid  

If you have questions about the Edgewood Opportunity Program or how it works, please feel free to call or email me. 


And, as always, thank you for trusting us with your children.

JA

Defining the Term

June 26, 2019
By Jay Adams

I teach my students about "defining the terms of the argument." It's important, because nearly every time I find myself in an argument, the root of the problem is the fact that two people are defining the same word differently.

Some relationships fail because the parties involved mean two different things by the word "love." Politically, we argue a lot because we often mean very different things when we use terms like "patriotism" or "freedom." I bet some of you have had interesting discussions with your children because you both mean something different when you use the word "curfew" or "responsibility."

Education suffers from this phenomenon as well, I think. Unless we define "education" very carefully, it's possible that our campus will have hundreds of people on it, all meaning something very different when we use the word. And that can only lead to confusion.

So I want to be very clear about what I mean when I talk about education:

Education is the never-ending process of learning how to live well.

Test scores help us evaluate how we're doing in the classroom, of course. Algebra is a part of education, certainly. So is US history, and biology, and 4th grade literature.

But we also have to include athletics, and the lunchroom, and how we treat each other in the hallways. Test scores matter for things that are easy to measure, but true education also includes completely abstract things.

I was fascinated this week by this study from LinkedIn that discussed the skills modern employers value most in their employees. It fascinated me because none of them could possibly be measured effectively by a traditional test. That article is well worth a read, but if you just want the list, here they are:

  1. Time Management

  2. Adaptability

  3. Collaboration

  4. Persuasion

  5. Creativity

These things have begun to matter more and more than credentials for a very simple reason: as a college diploma becomes near-universal, it loses its value as a signal of accomplishment.  

In fact, the article points out that Google, Apple, IBM, and Bank of America no longer require applicants to have a college degree.

This means that we must prepare Edgewood students for college, certainly –but we would be failing in our mission to education them for a life well-lived if we didn't also focus on the skill sets employers now value above a solid GPA and college diploma.

I look forward to getting the staff back on campus in July, so we can begin talking about how to be intentional in working these concepts into the lessons and assessments we provide our students.

As always, thanks for trusting us with your children.

 

JA

Frisbee Lessons

June 12, 2019
By Jay Adams

I have trouble relaxing, as anyone who knows me well can attest. I’m a fairly laid-back person, but it’s extremely difficult for me to ever get my brain turned all the way off. There’s always some school-related thought process running in the background.

I assume that’s why I started thinking about school while we were on vacation last week. There was a young girl – maybe 8 – playing frisbee with her dad in the surf.

She wasn’t very good at frisbee. In fact, she was absolutely terrible. I mean it – she was potentially the worst person I have ever seen attempt to throw or catch a frisbee.

And a couple of things occurred to me:

First, she can’t be good at frisbee without going through the part where she’s terrible at it. And that’s true for every skill on earth: being really bad at something is the most important part of getting really good at it. If we’re not willing to go through the part where we’re bad at something, we’ll never be good at it.  This is an extremely important principle for our students – particularly in crucial skills like reading and math. One way I’ve dealt with this in my classes is to ask students to put the word “yet” on the end of their negativity.

Instead of “I can’t diagram sentences,” say “I can’t diagram sentences yet.”

Instead of “I’m just not a math person,” say “I’m just not a math person yet.”

Instead of “I can’t make a left-handed layup,” say “I can’t make a left-handed layup yet.”

That one word turns a sentence about failure into pure optimism. I know it’s cheesy, but it’s something I do inside my own head, and it genuinely helps my mindset.

Consider frisbee girl: “She wasn’t very good at frisbee yet.” It’s a completely different sentence, isn’t it? The idea that she’ll be good at frisbee eventually is now built into the sentence. It feels like an inevitable fact, instead of an option.

The other thing that occurred to me as I watched the frisbee game was this: It didn’t even bother the girl that she was bad at frisbee. It didn’t bother her because “being good at frisbee” wasn’t the reason she was out there. Frisbee was just the HOW; her WHY was “I love spending time with dad.”

I keep a sign over my desk: “Until you have a WHY, none of your HOWs or WHATs will matter.”

What is our WHY at Edgewood? For me, it boils down to a couple of simple things:

I want our students to live lives that are meaningful to themselves, their families, and the world around them.

I want our students to love learning.

It’s not much more complicated than that. The grades, the schedules, the lessons, the test scores – those are all WHATs and HOWs. The WHY has to be kept at the forefront of everything: Meaningful lives, lived by people who love learning.

For more on WHY, you might want to check out Simon Sinek’s book Start With Why. And remember, if you go through the Amazon Smile program, Edgewood will get 0.5% of your purchase price sent back to us at the end of the quarter.

Go Wildcats, and as always:

Thank you for trusting us with your children.

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