A social state or condition; a fellowship; a group sharing common characteristics; a unified body of individuals. Community, a hallmark of great schools, is at its core a culture of belonging, demonstrated daily through positive, supportive interpersonal, bidirectional relationships among teachers, staff, administration, parents, and students alike. Students who find themselves in communities of belonging, find classrooms where expressions of personal thoughts, feelings, and experiences are welcomed, acknowledged, and understood. Seemingly diverse individuals are able to unite under that which is common. Creating a school community of belonging rooted in trusting relationships is intentional; it is challenging. It is a pursuit with no set point ending; there are constant undulations. What we know, however, through decades of research is that a school community characterized by supportive relationships provides an environment rich for academic growth, school engagement, altruistic and ethical actions, and the development of social and emotional competencies. It is through these positive and supportive relationships that belongingness blossoms.
Many students and families find themselves at The Craig School after years of frustration from previous school experiences. Trust, so integral to positive, supportive school relationships, has dissolved. This could be trusted in the “system” of education in general or with the individual components. Trust, however, is acutely important on our journey as parents and educators to unlock our students' capabilities, bolster their self-awareness and self-esteem, and help them tap into all of their potential greatness. And, I believe, collectively, this is what we want for each of our students.
Hoy and Tschannen-Moran (2003) define trust as “an individual’s or group’s willingness to be vulnerable to another party based on the confidence that the latter party is benevolent, reliable, competent, honest, and open.” For some of you, you have been part of our community for many years now, and for others, we are just beginning our relationship and trust-building. I believe in the mission of this wonderful school and I believe in the goodness among our faculty and staff who truly put your children first.
My goal for us as a community of parents, guardians, teachers, staff, students, and administrators, is to aspire for relationships marked by these core values of (a) benevolence, which may be defined as the confidence that we have the best interests of your student at heart, (b) reliability, or the extent to which you are able to depend upon The Craig School to come through for your student, to act consistently, and to follow through, (c) competence, that is, the belief that we are able to perform the tasks required of us as educators entrusted to the care of your child, (d) honesty, the ability of each faculty, staff, and administrator to demonstrate character marked by integrity and authenticity, (e) openness, a bi-directional flow of information so that we may partner in the work we do as a school community all for the benefit of your child (Tschannen-Moran & Hoy, 1998; Brewster & Railsback, 2003).
The road to The Craig School is different for each student. Whichever path led you here, I am grateful. It is a privilege to work with your children, to partner with you, and to build an intentional community of belonging marked by trusting supportive relationships.