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Back to School

August 28, 2018
By Seth Yocum- Head of School

It’s been an exciting ‘Back to School’ season here at St. Paul’s School.  As I write, to think that we are already seven days into our 18-19 academic year is pretty awesome.  The support and welcomed comraderie I’ve received is quite humbling to be sure. Still, it would be disingenuous of me to suggest that I didn’t harbor a bit of trepidation as we approached the beginning of the school year.  What was I to expect? How would I be perceived? Would the students readily appreciate new leadership? Would the faculty and staff? Would the parents? I had to check myself - was this the onset of impostor syndrome? I’m glad to report that I survived, due in large part to the caring culture so evident in the stakeholders of St. Paul’s School.  As I write this piece, so many of my concerns have been allayed, and in their place now resides a sense of fellowship, confidence, and eager anticipation for the coming year.

It all became quite real on Monday, August the 13th, when the entire staff returned for our first professional development day.  An ordinary ‘nuts and bolts of the school year’ meeting quickly turned into and engaging educational fellowship as we shared stories of our summers and reflected on our philosophies and shared commitments to education.  At the end of the day, I was fast feeling the faculty old friends, true and trusted colleagues. Tuesday was filled with departmental meetings, and it was here that I began to recognize the efficacy and efficiency of our teams.  There willingness to collaborate, to constructively evaluate their practice, and desires to grow professionally spoke volumes about the culture of our school. Wednesday the campus was filled with families and life as orientations got underway.  This was my first foray into publicly addressing a substantial number of parents. There’s no denying it - I was a bit intimidated. Yet, the warmth and welcome reception that I received quickly put me at ease, and the energy that the families brought to our campus was palpable.  And then there was Thursday - the first day of school.

It’s important to note that I had been laser focused on Thursday, August 16th, since the moment Josie Iverson called me this past spring with the job offer.  In preparation for the presumed ‘chaos’ of day one, I had cleared my calendar on Thursday and Friday so that I could be entirely available for the proverbial fires that were certain to arise.  Thursday morning arrived early for me (like 3:00AM early), and I set out on a pre-dawn run to settle a bit of my anxiety. The next thing I knew was it was 8:15, and chapel got promptly underway.  To finally see all the faces to whom I would be dedicating my professional life, to hear them sing hymns full and bright, the welcome message of Father James - truly I was speechless. On time and in tune, we marched out to the flag pole for the weekly flag salute, finished with a rousing song of celebration, and quickly the staff and students scurried to their classrooms to begin the year fresh and hopeful.  And there I was - standing stunned by the grace and efficiency of the students and staff, honestly wondering what I was to do next. In truth, there was plenty for me to do, but there was an awesome sense of competence and unity that made a serious impression on me, and spoke to the quality of educational community for which St. Paul’s School is known. I couldn’t have been more proud.

Until next time...