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CAG Blog: Powered by Optimism

"Powered by Optimism" captures my reflections of life in and around an all-girls' school and highlights the values of C.A.G.: leadership, global citizenship, wellness, and teaching and learning. Underscoring it all is a deeply ingrained sense of optimism that we are preparing a generation of boldly creative women who will help change the world.

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joy- 11.14.11

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11/14/11 12:00 AM   | reply

Call me an idealist … or maybe a sap. I accept that part of myself fully as I undertake my first blog. I predict that as I write regular entries for this public space, I will litter your computer screen with images of joyful, optimistic moments and impassioned outcries for fairness and balance for the constituency I serve: Girls. Girls at my school, and girls everywhere.

These moments will connect, like a string of beads, to create, I hope, a vision for what a world might look like in which girls are fully free to fashion for themselves the lives they deserve.

Last week, I stood in the back a darkened auditorium filled with hundreds of girls, waiting to be introduced to the kick-off of our annual can drive, a community service project our girls take very seriously.

The presenters slouched against the stage, in the way only adolescents can slouch, folding themselves inward, as if to say: “Don’t pay too much attention to me.” So, my expectations were not particularly high. After all, it was only 8 am.

 Then came disco lights, music and the sudden straightening of spines. Volunteers from the audience went backstage, by grade, and in an instant, the energy in the room was electric.

The earsplitting music (forgive me, girls, I am on the dark side of 40) played as groups of girls performed “interpretative” dances, brandishing cans of food. The audience roared, and when the senior group had had their turn, their classmates rose as one, and chanted, uproariously, in support of their acrobatics, their grace, and their willingness to take a risk.

How could anyone not smile, or even laugh out loud? How could you not feel the invincibility of these young women?

A few hours later, I stood in our Lower School, chatting with a group of teachers. A little girl, on her way to lunch, stopped in front of me, looked up and, with a face devoid of any fear, wrapped her arms around my waist and hugged me, tightly. “We do random hugs around here,” the Lower School director told me, after the girl rejoined her classmates in the lunch line.

Another bead had been strung on my joyful necklace.

 A while ago, I observed a group of juniors in an English class. Their reading had led them to a discussion of current United States’ immigration laws. They were loud, they were outraged, and they were fully present in that moment of vigorous discussion. The teacher would place a thought, a phrase, an image, almost like a wrapped package, in the middle of the room. The girls went for it voraciously, tearing at its edges, pulling it apart and turning it, every which way, until they had appreciated its complexity, and owned their own opinions deeply and honestly.

The joy of participating in one’s own learning is powerful beyond measure and helps girls grow toward the wisdom that is shared by a common humanity. 

There is joy in my days. There are kindnesses that warm my heart, honesty that requires me to test my assumptions, and exuberance that stirs my soul. A string of moments that shapes my daily experience and drives me, and my colleagues, to find within each girl a voice that deserves to be heard.

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