There has been a lot of focus at Cushing in the last year on improving campus culture—not because there was anything wrong with the culture the Academy had, but because we know that a healthy campus climate is the product of deliberate and conscious effort. In pursuit of that, Headmaster Torino has brought in several outside perspectives to speak with our students, faculty, and administrators.
In a special assembly on Sept. 12, Rosalind Wiseman—an internationally recognized author and educator on children, adolescents, parenting, education, and social justice—talked to Cushing students and faculty about handling the inevitable conflicts and problems that come with adolescence. “There will be conflicts with both peers and adults,” she told them. “But you have a responsibility to handle them with dignity and a sense of self-worth.”
In her talk, she acknowledged that there are some truths about adolescence. Heart break, anger, and confusion are all a part of growing up, but they’re a necessary part. Science is beginning to understand how important adolescence is for brain development and that it lasts for much longer than we previously thought—from about age 10 to age 25—proving once again that the time students spend at the Academy is transformational.
Cushing is actively examining how it can be better and that every member of the community is part of that effort. She encouraged the students to play an active role in building a community that everyone can be proud of. “You have both rights and responsibilities,” she said. “You have a right to your feelings, to be heard, and to speak. But you also have a responsibility to treat yourself and others with dignity.”
Ms. Wiseman and her associate, Charlie Kuhn, will be an important part of the Cushing community during the 2014-2015 school year. They will visit in January and again in March and she encouraged Cushing students to Tweet her @rosalindwiseman if they have questions, so that the conversation that began in September can continue throughout the school year.
“In our daily interactions with students, it is sometimes difficult to stay in tune with their perspectives,” noted Mr. Dave Stone, Dean of Faculty. “Ms. Wiseman’s approach helps promote mutual understanding. Her straightforward advice for students, teachers, and administrators is practical and meaningful. Simply put, we will become a better school because of our work with her.”