Discovering Our Why

Yesterday, I brought a PK3 student inside who obviously was having first-week jitters and was a little tearful. Immediately, two first grade students came over to comfort the child. After thanking the students for their kindness, I reflected upon whether the students were consciously aware of why they chose to help the child. It reminded me of some conversations we had last week during our Faculty Work Week. 

At the beginning of every school year, our faculty and staff gather together as a team during their work week and reflect on the ideas that will guide our work in the year to come. This year we asked everyone to remember their “WHY” – why did they choose to become educators or to join the WES Community.

There were so many similarities in the dozens of answers. We discovered that each “why” reflected the values of the individual and that, perhaps as expected, there was a tremendous amount of intersection in these values.

Tomorrow during our Opening Chapel, I will share with our students a summary of our faculty’s “whys” and how those “whys” are not profession-specific or even “adult-only” values. These are values that we consistently talk about at WES – joy, love, community, and connections. And as educators, being grounded in a why helps us to stay focused and overcome obstacles.

The same is true for our students. As we seek to help our students develop their own moral compass, we want to encourage them to think about their values and how they influence their actions. When our students are able to recognize why they choose to be kind or helpful, then they can continue to make choices they are proud of even when the situations become more difficult. One way we can foster this type of reflection is to have deliberate conversations with our children.

Tomorrow, I will ask our students who they would like to be. We are not looking for answers such as a lawyer, a teacher, or a scientist. Or Elon Musk or RBG or Lebron James. We want to know who they want to be as a human being and how they want to be known. Kind? Reliable? Impactful? Their answers should help them identify what their core values are. 

At WES, our motto is “be kind.” However, kindness doesn’t just magically happen; it’s something we must deliberately cultivate through self-reflection and through our choices. 

Danny Vogelman
Head of School