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m es s ag e f ro m th e h e a d o f s c h o o l

Kristie Gillooly



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ast month a colleague and I traveled down to Rhode Island to have lunch with Janet Eisendrath, a member of the Concord Academy faculty from 1952 to 1990. Janet shares a birthday with Concord Academy, and though the years have slowed her walking pace, they have had no effect on her quick mind, her clever wit, or her warm smile. I found myself thinking back to the first time I met Janet, shortly after I arrived at CA in the summer of 2009. Nancy Howard, my then-assistant, who had also worked for Tom Wilcox and Jake Dresden before me, told me that Janet had called, saying she wanted to “meet the new guy.” Then one day she appeared in my office for a chat. Janet, then just past her mid-80s, told me that she would be leaving soon for a teaching stint in the Czech Republic; I had no doubt that she would be up to the task. We talked that day about teaching, about the first time she met Elizabeth Hall (who would become one of Janet’s most important mentors), about the evolution of the school during her time there, and, of course, about the pleasure of working with young people, whether they hailed from New York or West Concord or Beijing or Prague. In a Convocation talk she gave in September 2003, Janet spoke about what happens between a teacher and her students: “There is magic in a class. In a class you accomplish things that cannot be done alone. It is hard to sing a quartet by yourself, to play a soccer game by yourself. The magic, however, lies not in numbers alone. Our combined selves produce a kind of communication that is beyond conversation, that is made clear by the look in the eye, by the grace of the body, and by extraordinary moments of silence….” As our lunch drew to a close, Janet reflected on a question that every teacher will recognize: Was I a good teacher? In keeping with her typically indirect approach to such inquiries, Janet told a brief story about one

of her students, a story that left the question hanging in the air. Was I a good teacher? In that question, I thought, is the essential quality of not just a good teacher, but a truly great one. In that question is the willingness to be self-critical, the absence of assumptions, the comfort with a question hovering, the feeling of necessary tension. All are present in a good teacher. At the heart of Concord Academy’s future—still— is what happens between students and teachers in the classroom. We will need technology, we will need facilities to support the work of teaching and learning, but most of all we will need motivated students and talented, committed teachers, like Janet Eisendrath. Well into the future at Concord Academy, they will create, as Janet put it, “a rich, pulsating environment in which teachers and students make meaning together.” We are thrilled about the possibilities that CA’s future holds for our students and our teachers. create + innovate: The Centennial Campaign for Concord Academy (see page 36 for details) is a vital step toward that future. The loyal and supportive CA community, like our teachers and students, is poised to make a powerful difference together. I invite you to read about the plan, to join us for an upcoming event, and to share your thoughts about the future of CA. That future is both exciting and, true to Janet’s question, deeply rooted in our history of dedicated teaching and learning. Sincerely,

Rick Hardy Head of School Dresden Endowed Chair


10/28/15 8:08 PM

Profile for Concord Academy

CA Magazine Fall 2015 Issue  

This special issue spotlights create + innovate: The Centennial Campaign for Concord Academy, including a campaign impact report and coverag...

CA Magazine Fall 2015 Issue  

This special issue spotlights create + innovate: The Centennial Campaign for Concord Academy, including a campaign impact report and coverag...