Ventures on our Seas
In William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Brutus says to Cassius, “On such a full sea are we now afloat that we must take the current where it serves or lose our ventures.” I have always been drawn to this statement and I remind myself of it often. At first glance, one could erroneously perceive a certain fatalism in the statement, a message that one has little control over one’s future. Far from suggesting powerlessness over events, Brutus is challenging Cassius to take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves. Of course, the saliency of the message needs to be removed from the deadly contexts of Shakespeare’s plot and the fate of Julius Caesar.
The wisdom of Shakespeare’s verbiage lies in the challenge that one must take full advantage of the circumstances that one faces, or else risk losing all that has been invested to date. Such wisdom has specific relevancy each day in the life of a school and in the process of teaching and learning. Learning and growth demand the exercise of certain healthy risks. If a student does not engage in the learning process with an initiative to learn what may seem unfamiliar and distant, then any learning will be superficial at best. Similarly, if a teacher does not engage each individual student in the learning process in challenging and dynamic ways, then his or her teaching will be diffuse and inefficient.
A teacher with integrity in his or her chosen profession chooses to teach because they have a desire to help young people grow toward a healthy, happy, and independent adulthood. In this context, dedicated teachers seek to take advantage of each opportunity that presents itself to help students grow and mature, both inside and outside of the classroom. To pursue this profession to its fullest extent requires tremendous investment, dedication, and patience. It requires that teachers take full advantage of each opportunity for a student’s learning and growth, recognizing that without such dedication the ventures of the profession will be met with less than positive results.
A school, if it is to take full advantage of the opportunities for the learning and growth of its students and its faculty, must cultivate and sustain a culture of connectivity. A culture of connectivity allows for relationships to flourish, especially those between teachers and students. A culture of connectivity creates a learning environment in which students feel comfortable taking healthy intellectual risks that will facilitate learning and growth. A culture of connectivity emphasizes the importance of respect in all that it does, including the ways in which it holds students accountable for their responsibilities.
Trinity-Pawling aspires to build and sustain a culture of connectivity to ensure that our pursuit of greatness is realized in the experience of our students. To paraphrase Shakespeare, it is on this sea that we are cast and we must take advantage of our vast opportunities to ensure that the goals of these ventures are not lost, but maximized. As we anticipate the rest of this and the next academic year, the faculty, staff, and I look forward to our partnership with you as we strive to reach the goals of our ambitions and ventures.
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