Our Educational Leadership Philosophy
by Charles A. McGeorge, MMA President
It is our responsibility as educators to deliver a holistic 360° Education that concentrates on the development of the “Whole Person.” The essence of educational leadership is to enhance, create and lead systems that are dedicated to developing not just the student’s mind, but their body, sense of honor, self-esteem, confidence, character and a sense of responsibility. The objective of a 360° Education is to produce a society populated by well-educated citizens and leaders of character that are productive members of families, communities and their nations.
To educate the Whole Person is a difficult and demanding task for an institution. Thucydides said, “There is no need to suppose that human beings differ very much one from another: but it is true that the ones who come out on top are the ones who have been trained in the hardest school” (Peloponnesian War 126.96.36.199) (1). Education should be well rounded and rigorous; developing the person, much the same as a gem cutter creates the facets of a precious stone.
Students perform to the level of expectations we demand; subsequently, those levels should be high. The key is making that high level of performance sustainable, which requires long-term consistent commitment to academic excellence. That commitment to academic excellence cannot be a one sided dynamic consisting of only the faculty and staff. High performance sustainable schools have academic excellence at the core of their value system, which is shared by the school’s entire community consisting of; parents, students, alumni, faculty, staff and donors alike. To support this environment, the entire school community is obliged to encourage each student to realize their full potential by striving for academic excellence and encouraging critical thinking.
High performance schools foster a learning environment that makes it “cool to be smart.” This dynamic is accomplished through an academic system that is enthusiastic about learning, well organized against its academic mission, recognizes and rewards student achievement. We should also emphasize and invest in the physical health, wellness and cultural development of our students. Plato and Seneca encouraged us that a healthy mind resides in a healthy body. The development of healthy bodies through physical exercise, wellness and nutrition is critical to the overall well being of our students. Schools have a unique opportunity to be instrumental in a young person’s cultural exposure and development that must be nurtured by exposing them to the arts, community service, civic responsibility and their respective meanings to our society.
It is critical that our teachers and staff are available, responsible, accountable and committed to the students and parents they serve. They, like the institution, are obliged to create and sustain an environment of positive engagement and professional competence. Successful boarding school faculties teach, mentor and are actively involved with their students and the school community. The faculty and staff should be collaborative with their peers, current in their subject matter and actively seeking and participating in faculty development opportunities. A teacher who successfully delivers a 21st century education is dexterous with technology as an educational tool and fosters a participatory, critical thinking environment in their classroom. In these types of schools, the administration works with the faculty on an ongoing basis to design and deliver rigorous programs that result in quality education.
One of the hallmarks of an education focused on the Whole Person is the development of the individual’s character. Character is improved by study, but it is learned by the way we live our lives daily. It is through a community’s daily commitment to a moral code of living that we teach character, honor and integrity to our students.
“True education seeks to make men and women not only good mathematicians, proficient linguists, profound scientists, or brilliant literary lights, but also honest men and women with virtue, temperance, and brotherly love.” - David O. McKay (2 )
Our ability to deliver quality education to our student/parent constituencies is directly proportionate to the leadership’s ability to positively engage and work with all stakeholders, including parents, teachers, staff, local community, alumni, donors and students.
(1) Forward, “An Education For Our Time” Josiah Bunting III, Regnery Publishing, Inc. 1998
(2) Vanderbilt University – “ Honor Quotes” Website 4/1/12 studentorgs.vanderbilt.edu/HonorCouncil/honorquo.php