January 15, 2019
Dear Parents and Students:
As Principal, I like to share with my colleagues and students the books I am reading at the current time. With limited availability of time, I must select the books wisely, usually based upon suggestions from friends and colleagues as well as from the authors of books I have previously read. I am a big fan of non-fiction these days, although as a former English major in college, I love sneaking into Mrs. Fitzgerald’s English classes and listen to her teach on Shakespeare and the greats of Western literature.
I am currently reading Team of Teams by retired US Army General Stanley McChrystal, who now teaches at Yale University and writes about how he had to change the thinking and strategy of the United States military during the Iraq war due to the change in wartime tactics by Al Qaeda. In the beginning stages of the war, Al Qaeda was able to outmaneuver the US military at every encounter. McChrystal and his “teams” realized that the US military, despite being the most strategic and powerful were being beaten by the speed of Al Qaeda network. The US military had to change its dynamic from hierarchical to a faster and more team-based approach to fight the war - it worked.
I share all of this introduction because as both and educator and a parent, we have an important role in shaping the minds of our young people by teaching and modeling for them the important obligation: what I would call the sacred duty of reading. Reading opens our minds to divergent viewpoints, new ways of thinking (as I encountered in this book - what could a US General teach a Catholic school Principal about teamwork? - a lot). Reading also allows one to practice what psychologists call metacognition - thinking about thinking which is a rare gift in our frenzied social media, tweet society.
As our nation faces the longest government shutdown in United States history, perhaps the art of reading can teach us the value of opening our minds and finding a way to other truths that may not be so self-evident in our often narrow thinking. I am proud that the SJND faculty read a summer book and now have an active book club. Bravo and keep reading. Let’s get our students interested in reading as well, and challenge them to read deeply and widely.
Just a reminder, let’s have a big parent turnout for the Crab Feed on Saturday, February 2 - the theme this year is Alameda Derby. Get your tickets now before they sell out.
Good news: Eileen Graybeal, Director of Admissions, shared with me that SJND has had another record year in terms of 8th grade applications. It is great to see such interest in the Pilot family.
As always, thank you for your support! Go Pilots!