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The Day We've Been Waiting For

Posted Aug 23 2014 3:57pm
Well, as many of you know, this past year saw my transition away from full-time medicine, and into the field of education.  It has been an exciting few months since we moved to the Czech Republic to work at Townshend International School .  I just wanted to share some thoughts of the past few days.

Today is the day we've all been waiting for.  At Townshend it gets very quiet during the summer, and so we eagerly look forward to the day students return.  And today is the day.  The first students to arrive to the dorms were Carolyn from the US, Jasmine from the Congo, Ruben from Holland, Airma from Russia, Clara from Germany, and Recep from Turkey.  Seeing the new students arrive with their parents took me back to the same Saturday a year ago, when I dropped my own daughter off at the dorms.  I remembered how hesitant and unsure she was about her new life to come, and how difficult the first few days were, but of the calm I felt three weeks later when she sent an email that said, "Dad, this is the school I've been looking for and where I belong."  It will be okay.  Every student, boy or girl, can tell you of the tears they shed in their first weeks of boarding school.  They all think they're the only one, and only later find out that everyone has cried alone during those days.

The staff returned to campus a week early for orientation and preparation.  Three days were spent with special guest from the UK/Sweden, Martin Richards.  Martin is a teacher, trainer, coach, and author of the book, A Coaching Approach to Education .  It was a nice to spend several days in reflection, and to be with the staff in a different environment.

The first highlight of the week was the school director, Vivek Williams, guiding us through a review of the school's vision and culture, and asking "how are we doing"?  It's nice to reconnect with our mission and to remind ourselves of the bigger picture of our work, and of the things that make Townshend unique in the world .

A second highlight of the week was looking ahead to the year 2020 (or as I'm used to saying, "20/20") and imagining what we would be like.  It was exciting to hear the ideas -- more diversity at the school with larger numbers of students from Asia, an on-campus athletic facility, growth in our arts program.

The session that put me in awe was a gathering of the secondary school teachers, where we talked about communicating with students and bringing out the best in them.  The experience among this group of teachers, the wisdom, their sensitivity towards the students, their perception of nuances that could help draw out the best in a student, were humbling to see.  I've taught at the university level, and lectured at medical conferences, but other than an occasional talk at our local high school, this is my first year of teaching at the secondary school level.  But witnessing the depth amongst my colleagues gives me confidence.  I am surrounded by mentors.

The Monday marks the start of classes.  More students arrive tomorrow and over the coming few days. But today, with the arrival of the first ones, the summer has come to a close and life has returned more fully to Townshend.

Aerial View of Townshend International School  in picturesque South Bohemia region of the Czech Republic, near Germany and Austria

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