Why Do We Do All of This?

Dear Middle School Families,

As students arrive from the cold, morning carpool carrying backpacks and gift bags filled with thoughtful Christmas treats for teachers and friends, the simultaneous sense of hustle n’ bustle, busyness alongside a feeling of peace, caring, and unusual stillness strikes me. I smile as I try to warm up my hands. I forgot my gloves.

The question emerges in my mind, “Why do we do all of this?” At first, the thoughts could be applied to the season. It’s a common reflection at Christmas time. But as the smiling and freezing faces file past me, the thought shifts to school. “Why do we launch all of the initiatives we do? The list is impressive. Consider that none of the following existed at Mount Vernon five years ago: Heads of Grade, ERB testing, iPlan17, Parent University, E-portfolios, Research & Development Teams, UbD (Understanding by Design), student surveys, instructional rounds, MV Mindsets, external experts, design thinking, space renovation/innovation, chromebooks, visible thinking, performance tasks, twitter, and MVIFI. This is just a portion.

How does all of this connect to our purpose? How many of us can make the connection between the day to day activity and the overarching relevance and significance of school? Why do we do all of this?

Is it because US children lag in global education rankings while Asian countries rise to the top? Or because China is replacing the US in the news when it comes to space exploration? Perhaps we want our students to be able to design new technology to make the future brighter or be resourceful enough to inquire why a search engine company would purchase military robot makers? Maybe we just want our kids to go the best college? We are driven by inspiration, hope, and love, as well as fear and uncertainty. We believe America’s best days are still ahead and yet we wonder what kind of society creates kids who disregard others and consider unusually cruel acts like “knockout” to be merely a game. Why do we do all of this?

We launch all of these initiatives because it is what our mission requires of us. Our mission exists because we love our children and we want to provide the best opportunities and experiences for them to be successful in life, however success is defined. Our mission exists because as the world has become more complex and interconnected, we desire to position our kids in the best way possible. Our mission exists because we recognize gaps exist in our country’s educational system and we are passionate about leading the efforts to addressing those gaps rather than following and waiting. Most schools are waiting. Today’s kids cannot afford for us to wait. And yet educational change can be slow, difficult, and uncertain.

Our teachers have embraced this mission with great passion. They deserve praise for not only doing what every teacher does, but also for striving to innovate and create in an industry that has not changed much in 100 years. I am blessed to lead a team of leaders. At the end of the day, we are all here because we love kids. We want to be part of a community where young and old exchange ideas, where iron sharpens iron, and devoted people ask questions like, “If school is supposed to prepare kids for real life, then why doesn’t it look more like real life?” I think about your kids and I think about my own. I can’t think of another school where I would want them be than Mount Vernon Presbyterian School.

We are blessed. Merry Christmas!


Chip Houston
Head of Middle School

PS – I am excited to be moderating a twitter chat on Thursday, December 19, at 9:00 p.m. titled, “Vitalizing Professional Growth with Instructional Rounds.” Please participate by following the hashtag #isedchat.

PPS – Parent Information Meetings for Class Trips (Grades 6-8) have been moved and will be held on Thursday, February 13 in FC Media Center from 7:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. Payment for trips will be due the following week on Thursday, February 20. More details TBA.









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