Joshua C. Baumer, Principal
Dear Deerfield Families and Staff,
For this week’s message, I am sharing my remarks from the Principal’s Welcome portion of Curriculum Night:
Good evening. It is an honor to be here with you to usher in the 2016-2017 school year. Curriculum Night is the event each year when we have the largest gathering of our Deerfield parents. Your presence reflects the interest and investment you hold for your children’s education and is a powerful symbol of the strength of our community. I am extremely grateful for your presence both tonight and throughout the year.
This is the beginning of my third year as Deerfield’s Principal. In some ways, that’s hard to believe. It seems like not that long ago that I stood here and share my wedding picture and Deerfield vows with you. And, in all honesty, I’d rather forget how last year I stood here and shared the cover of the album I recorded after college.
But, none the less, two years have past and a new school year has begun. While I recognize many of the Deerfield staff members and parents in this room have many more Deerfield years under their belt, I have, in a relatively short time, developed a deep loyalty to this school. I feel embedded into this community and truly proud of how its members work in concert with one another in the best interest of our students.
One of the things I noticed when I was preparing my remarks for this evening was that so much of what I now know and feel about Deerfield comes as much from my own observations and experiences as it does from what our students, staff members, and families have told me. What I have observed and experiences over the past two year is that, without question, Deerfield is a great school. Our district is very well resourced. Our staff members are skilled and dedicated. Our families are present and supportive. As a result, our school is strong and our students are doing well by many measures.
While all of these statements are true, they are also generalizations to some extent. Communities are multivariable and their defining characteristics are complex and nuanced. And in strong and successful schools, such as ours, it’s important to be able to both step back and see how we are doing from a global perspective and dig deep to discover areas where we can do even better.
When I examine Deerfield as a whole, I always look through the lens of my two goals for this school: Deerfield is a school where all students are safe, welcome, and included and Deerfield is a school where all students can learn. These are not only my goals for our school, but I would argue that they are the mission of the work we all do here and certainly what guides my school leadership.
With that mission in mind, I have dug deep over the past two years, through what our community members have told me about Deerfield and my own experience, and enter into this year with a clear sense of the many areas we are doing well and where we can do even better.
This year, one of our main areas of focus will be on clearly defining the behavioral standards we hold for ourselves as a community. Our Deerfield Core Values: Cooperation, Academic Excellence, Acceptance, Respect, Responsibility, and Effort convey the importance of both personal behavior and the need to consider the needs of others in our actions. From these Core Values, I have drafted a collection of Community Standards that help to define what these Core Values look like when we are truly living them as a community.
Our Community Standards
At the Deerfield School, we strive to...
- Work together to make our school a safe and welcoming place where every student can learn. (Cooperation)
- Do our best to learn by listening, asking questions, practicing, and reflecting about what we are learning. (Academic Excellence)
- Show every member of our community that they are safe and welcomed by the way we treat each other. (Acceptance)
- Interact with every member of our community in a welcoming, kind way so all can learn. (Respect)
- Take responsibility for our actions and for the effects those actions have, and seek to heal any harm we have done to others, even if that harm was unintentional, so all can be safe here. (Responsibility)
- Work hard so we can learn. (Effort)
What I hope you notice in the wording of these standards is the personal behavior toward the individual and collective success. Over the course of this year, the Deerfield staff, and I hope parent community, will doing everything in our power to model, promote, and acknowledge these community standards for our students. Deerfield students will help to define what these standards look like in the classroom, cafeteria, playground, and in all school settings to give us an even clearly sense of what living our Core Values truly means.
As an educator and school leader, I treat the responsibility of preparing children for life beyond our walls with great care. Schools are children’s first work places and classmates are their first colleagues. It is incumbent among us to teach students that learning and behaving appropriately is only half the job of a Deerfield student. As a member of this community, students are expected to help each other (their colleagues) succeed, just as we, the adults in their lives, do for each other and for all of the students in our school. When this occurs, our Core Values and Community Standards not only inform our behavior, but become simply how we do business at Deerfield day in and day out.
I am so grateful for all you do to make the Deerfield community such a strong and special one. I look forward to my on-going partnership with you all and our skilled Deerfield staff as we continue with this challenging and important work of assuring that Deerfield is a school where all students are safe, welcome, and included and Deerfield is a school where all students can learn.
I discussed our Core Values and Community Standards with the Deerfield staff and students today during an all-school assembly. To view the slide deck I presented, please click here. I will share more about the work we will do this year to clearly defining our community’s behavioral standards at Friday’s PTO meeting. I hope you are able to make it.
Thank you so much,
Deerfield Elementary School
72 Deerfield Avenue
Westwood, MA 02090