Middle School News & Stories
Head of School Dominic A.A. Randolph encouraged Middle and Upper School parents today to help their children become independent and optimistic, to teach them to have high expectations and humbleness.
Noting that Riverdale's mission is "committed to empowering lifelong learners by developing minds, building character, and creating community in order to change our world for the good," he said: "Missions are only good if you take them to heart and make them active in what you do every day."
At Riverdale, "thinking well" means "being thoughtful...that means thinking of others...being empathetic," he said. He defined "empowering" as providing an individual with the "space to use initiative and act." Riverdale's call to action, "change our world for the good," asks all members of the community to think about their positive purpose. "Often this takes the form of small changes that are really manageable that grow into greater action," he said. "I hope that we can all act collaboratively our good intentions. I hope that we can make our community a more thoughtful, engaged and positive place this year."
Parents can help their children by setting boundaries and discussing them with their children. "This means talking about issues such as drinking, substance abuse, sexuality digital reputation and identity," he said. " These are not easy discussions. Some people would argue that everything is relative and that there are not set answers to such ethical dilemmas. They are right and wrong. There are better choices, and you need to help your sons and daughters make the better choices."
The school plays a role in fostering these discussions, and parents, too, need to set appropriate and legal boundaries for their children and to discuss ethical and moral decisions their children.
"The best type of learning happens when you don’t even realize that you are learning," Randolph said. "The best type of learning is not done purely in schools or universities, but happens, throughout one’s life, as a natural habit. One is curious. One learns. Therefore, it is our job, yes to teach some facts and figures, some discrete knowledge in a variety of disciplines. However, it is more important for us to teach “habits of mind” that will persist throughout an individual’s lifetime. As your sons and daughters either start or continue to move through high school challenge them to learn well, but also to make their learning active. "
As Riverdale evolves to meet the needs of students in a changing world, he said the school is continually thinking about how to link classroom learning with the world issues and events. "More and more, he said, "I do not see the school as having a distinct academic curriculum and a co-curriculum, everything that happens outside of the classroom, but rather there is a holistic educational program that is a combination, an alchemy of what young people do in the classroom and outside of the classroom. I hope as you move forward that you can see the school’s educational program like this and help your sons and daughters forge the type of connections that will make their experience at Riverdale make sense and that they will start to hone a sense of purpose as they move through the school."
To read Randolph's opening remarks to students, click here.