With only a bike and a passion to teach sixth grade, I started at St. Paul’s in the fall of 1998. What has kept at me at the School for the past 16 years? Quite simply it is People, Program, and Place.
The dedication of 74 passionate educators instills in each of our children the desire to learn. The act of learning can be hard. It takes time and effort. Mastering the correct pencil grip during Writer’s Workshop, or solving a complex, multi-step math problem rewards a child with a lasting strength. Values we care about—inclusion, kindness, empathy, curiosity, creativity, and resiliency—emerge when our students engage and persist in their learning. Our teachers know this. Our teachers live this.
Our wealth of different viewpoints, coupled with a compassion for each other, drives the quality of instruction and the depth of the learning. Weaving difference into a coherent whole is a challenging task requiring courage and an open mind. The payoff is deep and authentic learning. The lessons can be small or large:
- In kindergarten, students learn how to treat one another with respect and kindness through the Kindness Club, known for performing sweet deeds throughout the school.
- In second grade, students apply arithmetic and learn about nutrition while partnering with seniors as cashiers and baggers in a weekly produce market, a tradition that has been at the School since 1995.
- In third grade, students learn about ornithology, seasonal bird migrations, the history of Lake Merritt, and statistics through their annual, year-long Lake Merritt Bird Census, which has been in existence for 19 years.
- In sixth grade, students collaborate with the Lake Merritt Institute and Map Your World, to learn about the connection of watersheds, municipal politics, international health policy, and climate science through a weekly cleanup and trash census of Lake Merritt and Lakeside Park.
The true measure of success is taking all you have learned and knowing how to apply it in a variety of contexts; to draw from the knowledge and wisdom of others in service to the greater community.
What better place to prepare a student than Oakland, CA and our unique location, contiguous with Lakeside Park and Lake Merritt. I believe this location is one of our greatest teachers. We have access to the city resources surrounding the lake and the grounds of the park. In addition to our gym, the YMCA is just a few blocks away, allowing our youngest students to swim and oldest students to play racquetball. Students and teachers have access to a variety of organizations for Service Learning partnerships. I can count 10 different organizations within a five minute walk from the School. Our students learn how to actively and safely interact with all kinds of people in a variety of contexts that make up our local community. In doing so, they develop a sense of place and belonging to a larger whole.
I encourage you to visit and see all of this in action. I’m sure you’ll understand why I am still here and why I am so proud to lead this phenomenal school.