“Every particular in nature, a leaf, a drop, a crystal, a moment of time is related to the whole, and partakes of the perfection of the whole.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson
In this issue of SEEN Magazine, we explore the concept of The Perfect School. Through facility design, through technology, through furnishing, through classroom design, through security, through culture and through family. The perfect school can only be attained as the perfection of the whole.
We began with an exploration of school design. Architects Megan Fagge and Bob Just are doing some very interesting work in Atlanta and elsewhere, and write about the relationship between the learner and the environment. According to Megan and Bob, the heart of the very complex question of school environment resides in one simple concept: Pride of Place. The perfect school should encourage students to learn and empower teachers to educate. Pride of Place extends beyond the student to the community as a whole. The perfect school should encourage a student to say ‘I go to school there!’ with a true sense of enthusiasm, and it should emphasize the value of education, collaborative learning and character development both inside and outside the classroom.
An increasingly evident aspect of the perfect school is safety. Things that seem almost commonplace now were unheard of twenty years ago. I was speaking to one of our security experts, Dennis Lewis, who is a best-selling author and SEEN advisor for seven years. Dennis told me that he heard the term “run of the mill school shooting” to describe a recent school tragedy. He was shocked to hear a term like that, and I was deeply saddened when he repeated it to me. Could we really be so numb to mass murder in our schools that “run of the mill school shooting” can be used to describe it? Maybe that’s the crux of the problem. In this issue, you’ll find a number of resources that can make our schools safer and protect the lives of our students and our staffs. I challenge every administrator to use the information provided and take steps now to make every school building and every school event secure. Don’t wait for your budgets. Get the training. Get the equipment. Get it done.
There’s an old saying that you never have to apologize for success. Demand excellence. Don’t settle for mediocrity because it is easier. As administrators, our successes will enhance the lives of millions of children. Our regrets will affect the lives of an equal number. Each of us has a unique opportunity to act and do the right thing. Our duty is to act in the interest of our learners. We do so with a resolute desire to create an environment of excellence for them, and with the knowledge that each is equally deserving and capable of excellence in their own lives.
It is a wonderful exercise to think about the perfect school. As we think, we can plan and act and create schools that are even more amazing. I began this column with a quote from one of our nation’s greatest poets. Allow me to end it the same way.
“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.”