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Embracing Challenge at Brookfield Academy

By Linda Pryor, Executive Director of Mission & Academics

Each year at Brookfield Academy we spend time thinking about an appropriate theme for the new school year ahead. I always enjoy the process as we try to determine what message we need to move our Brookfield Academy family forward in the most constructive manner while remaining focused on our Mission. This year the decision was made quickly -- we chose Embrace Challenge as the 2020-21 school year theme. It was an easy choice -- and an obvious choice. We knew opening our campus this fall would have its challenges. We asked ourselves how we wanted to proceed; and by moving forward with a positive attitude and big hearts for our students and their families, we were already committing to our new school theme.
This has been a period of great change from the norm and great growth for all of us -- administration, teachers, and students. One example of our commitment to “Embrace Challenge” was addressing the question of our beloved tradition of assemblies. We understood that we could not bring all our scholars together for assemblies within each Division; maintaining social distancing simply made this tradition impossible. We asked the question: “How do we reach the same goals of sharing an inspiring message and creating community - in a new and different format?” The entire process was formative. It allowed each of us to more deeply reflect on assembly,  its true meaning, and our goals. Each Division selected a format that felt appropriate for each age group, but I noticed an even greater care to get the messages out and extra efforts to build a sense of connection with our scholars. Meeting this challenge made us better and stronger. 

That is the beauty of challenge. It forces us -- if we keep our heads up and hearts open -- to grow, to communicate more effectively, to share more, to stretch ourselves, to support each other, and most importantly, to keep our eyes open to the needs of others and the unique gift that is our school’s Mission. When we commit to “Embrace Challenge,” it is a transforming experience -- and, dare I say it -- a blessing.   

Now, I know how much we all want this pandemic to be over. I certainly do! But still, it must be said that much good has emerged from this complex and ever changing situation. Why? Because we have the ability to choose how we face difficult circumstances. By engaging our creativity and determination -- we transform ourselves and our environment.

In fact, this creative, determined attitude stirs up memories of Brookfield Academy’s founding in 1962. It was an act of faith - another transformation. Everywhere they turned, the founding families faced challenges. Yet, it was their quest to provide for their children an educational environment that would offer the development of one’s mind and character in preparation for a lifelong adventure. The founders treasured the ideas of personal responsibility and individual freedom. They wanted to reach beyond what was available at the time, and strengthen their children’s intellect so they could make a positive difference in the world around them. The founders wanted every child to develop a thirst for the truth, a love for beauty, and a deep desire for goodness.  These are the treasures of a good classical curriculum. With these goals in mind, the founding families worked to find the right teachers, a location and a building, families with the same goals, a curriculum to meet their goals, financial resources, dedicated leadership, and more. Many people at the time viewed these challenges as overwhelming and others thought the goals were unattainable. What made the difference? How did these concepts and ideas move forward successfully, despite obstacles and naysayers?  As in all worthwhile endeavors, the answer lies in God’s blessing and the dedication and willing hearts of good people. That is how our school had its beginnings and that is how we will continue to embrace challenges we face today.  

The protocols put in place this year have been extensive and carefully thought out.  There have been additional expenses and unusual circumstances to maneuver  through, but in the end, we made these decisions so that we could continue as Brookfield Academy with the same goals, values, curriculum, and continuous focus on truth, beauty, and goodness - just as our founding families set out to achieve from the beginning.  

Certainly, there have been many outward changes in facing the challenge of COVID-19. We are deeply committed to keeping all of our scholars and families safe and this commitment means doing many things differently. Yet, I have observed  many people in our BA community give of themselves so generously - staying strong, motivated, and focused so that the most important elements of Brookfield Academy do not change and are not done differently. The teachers want the same excellent curriculum.  The students want the same interaction and close connection with their teachers.  The parents want the same lessons of good character and personal responsibility to be instilled. Individual freedom remains an important value and the topic of frequent discussions in classrooms. All these pursuits continue -- despite the challenge of masks, social distancing, and hand sanitizer everywhere. The cheerful spirits and willing hearts of individuals committed to BA are transforming our campus and leading our scholars forward -- preparing them to be “responsible, constructive, free people.” We are truly achieving our school theme to “Embrace Challenge” every day!

Download “TEN WAYS TO HELP YOUR CHILD EMBRACE CHALLENGE”
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An Independent College Preparatory Day School | K3 to Grade 12