Focusing on the Essentials: Highlights from Dr. Jacobsen’s Head of School Address

Aug 26, 2014 | All School, Lower School News, Media Galleries, Middle School News, Preschool News, Uncategorized, Upper School News

HOS ADDRESS 14-15 (3)Reinforcing the School’s mission-aligned vision, Dr. Brett Jacobsen led a standing-room-only-crowd of families on a journey of Mount Vernon’s dynamic present and promising future during his recent Head of School Address.
Sharing an update on (i)plan17, Jacobsen explored the myriad ways Mount Vernon is meeting its goals as outlined in its strategic plan. Modeling Mount Vernon’s Mindsets, he took participants through an interactive activity, in which parents re-created The Mount Vernon Continuum, a mobius strip connecting the School’s purpose, culture, design, and its results.
Introducing Mount Vernon’s five learning principles, Jacobsen asserted, “These are the essential practices–the most important principles as we manage the tension between the tried and the true (teaching methods) and the new and emerging.” To demonstrate each of the five practices, our Head of School drew on the experiences of our students and faculty who shared how these essentials play out at Mount Vernon.
To begin, Alex Alba from the Class of 2015 stepped onto the stage emphasizing Relationships are Foundational for Learning. To illustrate, he shared the lasting impact his statistics teacher Gary Piligian has made on his life. He also provided a glimpse into his recent Mount Vernon international exchange experience in Seville, Spain, saying the relationships with his host family are ones he will treasure forever. During this portion of the Head of School Address, Dr. Jacobsen also announced a new program at Mount Vernon that will tap into the talents of our families called Experts in Residence. Parents wanting to get involved in the classroom, providing real-world feedback to students on their work and projects, or serving as mentors should contact Emily Goldman, Director of Engagement, [email protected].
Highlighting the principle of Curiosity and Passion Drive Learning, two sophomores, Jacob Buck and Anya Smith-Roman captured the essence of Mount Vernon’s new Innovation Diploma Program. Each emphasized how the experience allows them the space and time to discover their true passions when it comes to learning. See the video here.
Demonstrating the third principle, Learning Demands Interactive and Flexible Spaces, first grader Simon Ikenberg made an encore appearance reminiscent of last year’s video tour of the innovative Kindergarten spaces. This year he took viewers on a learning walk through Mount Vernon’s newly innovated first through fourth grade classrooms. See the video here. Further emphasizing the principle, Dr. Jacobsen encouraged families to participate in the next phase of the School’s expansion by sharing their design ideas for a new Upper School Academic Building on Twitter using the hashtag, #mvdesigns.
Driving the fourth principle home of Empathy influences Learning, Dr. Jacobsen and Chief Learning & Innovation Officer Bo Adams announced Mount Vernon, the first in Georgia, has been named an Ashoka Changemaker School, joining 59 other schools around the world. Ashoka schools cultivate students as changemakers, leading the way to ensure every child develops agency, empathy, and voice. Mount Vernon’s DEEP Design Thinking program is one of the main reasons why MVPS was selected. Amplifying the School’s impact in this area, the father of Design Thinking & IDEO founder David Kelley recently had dinner with Mount Vernon’s Design Thinking Director, Mary Cantwell, and shared overwhelming praise for the School’s design thinking curriculum. (see photo in media gallery of David Kelly reading the DEEP dt playbook)
Rounding out the five principles, Dr. Jacobsen invited Middle School faculty member Alex Bragg to the stage to illustrate that Learners Apply Knowledge to Make an Impact. Bragg, along with social studies teacher Marie Graham, has revolutionized the seventh and eighth grade history courses. Through the universal themes of freedom and conflict, their students are drawing parallels between world events of today and those that occurred in history. They are also discovering ways they might make an impact in their communities. For example, last year students wrote to both President Obama and Senator John McCain specifically to share ideas regarding the immigration issues facing the United States. Students not only learned how to make these real world connections, they received responses from both leaders.
Congratulating Alex Bragg and applauding her innovative teaching methods, Dr. Jacobsen then concluded his Head of School Address by thanking the School community for their eternal support and wished everyone an incredible start to the 2014-2015 school year.
Families who attended the Head of School Address also enjoyed clips from the first day of school as well as an introduction to Mount Vernon’s new Chief of Philanthropy Rosalyn Merrick. See the video here.
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