Thank you Academia Cotopaxi

Posted in Uncategorized on June 12th, 2017 by dkerr
Well, here we are with only one week left of school…so crazy! I’m sitting here drinking coffee on this gorgeous Sunday morning in Quito, and I’m reflecting back on the last 3 years feeling very, very proud and a lot sad. There is so much that I’m going to miss about my time here, and to be honest I’ve never been to a more amazing, diverse, and stunningly beautiful country as Ecuador. This experience has been life changing for me and for my family, and it’s given us more than we could have possibly asked for. We’ve had such incredible adventures over the years, not only in Ecuador but all across South America, and we’re changed for the better in so many profound ways. Like I said, there is so much that I’m going to miss about my life here, but truthfully, there is one thing that I will miss more than all of the rest of it combined…and that’s you.
There is no way that I am going to be able to convey my gratitude appropriately in this post. I have said this before many times, and I’ll say it again now…I have never in my life worked with such an inspiring group of people and educators, and I’m sure that I’ll spend the rest of my career chasing what we’ve built here together as a faculty. Your commitment to kids, your passion for education, your thirst for adventure, and your work hard-play hard approach to life inspires me to no end. You have given me so much joy over the years, and you’ve filled my heart with so much love. I’ll never be able to re-pay you for all that you’ve given to me and to my family. You’ve embraced my two children, Max and Gabby, like they were your own, and you’ve given them the best 3 years of their lives…they’ve enjoyed every minute of this experience and like me, they don’t want Friday to come so quickly. I want to apologize in advance if I get too emotional as Friday speeds our way, but it’s hard to leave the people that you love, and it’s hard to say goodbye. That’s life though isn’t it…people come and go along this journey though life and all you can do is take what you can. You get inspired, you grow and learn, you fill up your heart, and you are changed for the better, always.
I want to take this opportunity to say thank you. Thank you for making me better in every way. I’m a better leader, a better father, a better educator, and ultimately, I’m a better person because of you. Thank you for all that you continue to give to our students…they are becoming the people we want for our world because they have you in their lives. Thank you for your hard work and commitment to the journey that AC is on…you are giving our kids the school and the education that they truly deserve. Thank you for how good you are to each other, and how deeply you care about developing such strong and positive relationships. Thank you for your energy, and for your smiles, and for your trust…thank you for all of it!
I want to also wish you all a safe, fun, relaxing, and adventurous summer holiday…so well deserved. For those of you moving on to new schools or new careers or new chapters in your lives, all the best. I am sending you my love, and all of my positive thoughts and energy as you go through this transition. For those of you coming back for another year or more, please keep the momentum that we’ve created together here alive and well…we’ve accomplished so much as a team but as you know, there is work left to do. I will leave this place at the end of next week with nothing but love and gratitude, and with a true sense of a purpose fulfilled…who could possible ask for more than that.
Finally, It’s certainly not lost on me how special this group of people is that we have on faculty, and what an immense gift that I’ve been given to have had this opportunity to share this time with each of you. So, let’s make these last 4 and a half days our best so far, and please make sure that you find the time to say what you need to say to each other before we head off for the break. It’s been quite a year, and we need to celebrate this week with our kids and with each other…remember, there’s no such thing as too many hugs! Thank you Ecuador and thank you Academia Cotopaxi…you will be in my heart forever.
Love, Dan 🙂

Quote of the Week...
What do I want to take home from my summer vacation? Time. 
The wonderful luxury of being at rest. The days when you shut down 
the mental machinery that keeps life on track and let life simply wander. 
The days when you stop planning, analyzing, thinking and just are.
Summer is my period of grace.

Soul Pancake - Give of Yourself this Summer (Thank you for all that you'e given me)
A Something in a Summer's Day
By Emily Dickinson

A something in a summer's Day
As slow her flambeaux burn away
Which solemnizes me.

A something in a summer's noon -
A depth - an Azure - a perfume -
Transcending ecstasy.

And still within a summer's night
A something so transporting bright
I clap my hands to see -

Then veil my too inspecting face
Lets such a subtle - shimmering grace
Flutter too far for me -

The wizard fingers never rest -
The purple brook within the breast
Still chafes it narrow bed -

Still rears the East her amber Flag -
Guides still the sun along the Crag
His Caravan of Red -

So looking on - the night - the morn
Conclude the wonder gay -
And I meet, coming thro' the dews
Another summer's Day!

Middle School – The Beautiful Struggle

Posted in Uncategorized on June 5th, 2017 by dkerr

So I’m down to the last two weeks of being a Middle School Principal, and as it draws to an end I find myself getting really, really sad…and feeling very, very grateful. It’s been an amazing seven year run for me, across two very different schools and communities, in two different countries and in two different continents, and if I’m being honest, it’s been the best seven years of my life so far. There’s something about the Middle School experience that is not for everyone. It’s challenging in many ways, and it takes a special kind of educator who can find their passion dealing with this age group of kids, but you know what, it’s so immeasurably rewarding and it changes your life for the better.

If I think of all the grade levels in a traditional school environment as a burning flame, I see the Middle School years as that bright blue part right smack in the center…the core…the place where it burns the hottest, the place that shapes and molds, and the place that transforms the overall identity of the fire. I like to call Middle School the beautiful struggle, because in many ways it is very much a struggle for kids, as they try to figure out life and their place in it…but with each struggle and with each stumble and eventually with each success, there is always incredible beauty!

From the sweet innocence of the 6th grade class, who come to Middle School so excited, and scared, and hopeful, and nervous, and who still think it’s okay to go on playdates and to cry when they get hurt, to the confusing and formative 7th Grade class who learn so much about their changing bodies, and hormones, and how to fit in and make friends, and about who they are starting to become as people, to the desperate to be adult 8th grade class who want so much to be given independence and autonomy, but still silently scream out for boundaries and guidance…how can you not love this beautiful struggle? All the awkwardness, all the mistakes, all the tears and heartache, and all the relentless hope, it truly makes my heart want to burst! Their search for themselves is so wide open and honest and pure, and it draws me in day after day after day…and it makes me smile.

The best part of my day is watching them all come off of the buses first thing in the morning ready to start again. They walk past me smiling, sleepy, and eager to learn about life, hoping to be noticed and inspired and validated by the ones who matter the most…their peers. I watch them, I joke with them, I try and set a good example for them, and I love them…I have grown to understand their struggle. If you ask anyone about their Middle School years you always get a passionate response. Some people loved Middle School and some people hated it, but everyone remembers it intensely. That first crush, the hopeful first kiss, all those risks that were taken that either fell flat or successfully catapulted you ahead with relief…constantly failing forward, and growing, and doing things you wish you hadn’t done…Middle School changes you, and it sets the tone for the rest of your life.

For some people these are the best years of their lives and for some these are the worst, and for me it’s beautiful to watch it all unfold. I love Middle School and I love Middle School kids, and I’m inviting you all this week to go out of your way to watch them, and to marvel at them, and to be inspired by what they’re going through. We need to praise them, and set high expectations for them, and embrace those daily (hourly) teachable moments, and we need to hold them accountable. We need to encourage them to take risks and to make mistakes and when they do, we need to take the time to watch them learn and learn and grow and grow.

Being a Middle School Principal has been one of the most inspiring experiences of my life because I got to live vicariously through them all, and I got to feel that burn that comes from being right at the center of the flame…everyday. Middle School kids make me feel alive, and I’m honored to have been such a major part of their journey over the past seven years. It’s a struggle for sure, but there’s no better place to be than right in that flaming blue core…where life burns the brightest.

Next year I begin a new chapter in my life as a Lower School Director, and I couldn’t be more excited. With this will come a very different kind of beauty, and days filled with constant joy, innocence, and belly laughs before the school day even begins. I’m absolutely thrilled to be going down this road, as I’ve felt the pull down to the lower grades for a few years now…it’s honestly where I now want to be. That said, there will always be something about the Middle School that has a huge piece of my heart, and as the final two weeks come to a roaring end, I want to say thank you. Thank you Middle School for all that you’ve given to me, and for all that I’ve become because of your burning flame. I’ve loved every moment of this beautiful struggle, and I’m all the better for it…in every possible way.
Quote of the Week…
It takes courage to grow up to become who you really are – E.E. Cummings