A Weekly Essay by Headmaster Palmer Bell
For forty four years I have had the most fulfilling vocation I could have ever imagined. There have been all the highs and lows that each of you experience in life. Yet, through it all I have always known education was perfect for me, a teacher, mentor, advocate and believer in the generation then “in process.” These last twenty one years I have used the Headliner, first in Texas and now here at RPDS, to provide a perspective on issues of child development, education, culture, world events, family dynamics and spirituality. At the heart of each article of course, were children – your children – our RPDS students. Obviously, this is not the only way to use the weekly Reminders cover page; I chose it. It was my wish to draw you into our weekly news, but even more to share something of myself with you, to invite adult dialog and to initiate intergenerational conversations.
The teamwork engendered by these conversations has been instrumental in our successes. RPDS is stronger today in nearly every measurable way than it was when I arrived in 2008. Our accomplishments have not been accidental or haphazard, nor have they been the work of an individual. Honest and effective leadership must acknowledge the instrumental role played by those influenced who choose to come along-side. Survey the biographies of the world’s most influential leaders and you will quickly uncover periods of failure, not for a lack of ideas, veracity, focus or oratory. Why the failures? In those periods receptive audiences did not gather. Effective leaders strike the tuning fork. When a critical mass of followers resonate to the same frequency, you will at once recognize the miracle of a flourishing melody.
I leave you with the following thoughts and my sincere thanks for your support during these exciting years at RPDS! Ralph Waldo Emerson reflected that, “whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage.” It is my belief that in the issues of life, parenting, school and community one individual can be right without necessitating that another individual be wrong. I can only advise that our philosophy over the last nine years has been an invaluable one: is this decision, mission-centered; child-focused; essential for the strategic health of the school and its respected position in the educational framework locally, regionally and nationally; and finally, does the decision support the school’s continuing commitment to being nimble, personal, innovative and a vibrant community? After that, it is only “tuning!”
The future of RPDS is bright indeed. Persevere. It’s the Riverside Way!