During this school year, we have been engaging in a community-wide process to re-examine our school’s purpose and created a structure, the Design Labs, in which anyone could post thoughts about ISZL. When our external facilitators arrived on campus to read through the thousands of comments from our community, they observed how there is a high degree of intellectualism and academic achievement, as evidenced, for example, by ISZL’s high external test scores and university acceptances. An emphasis on the arts, activities, sports, service, and experiential learning were also prevalent themes. One of our school’s greatest qualities derives from our strong sense of community and a foundation built on relationships. The diversity in our community, also identified as a key strength, was underscored with this notable comment: “At ISZL we all have the same background – we are all a mix of everywhere”.
The facilitators then made an interesting observation. One said, “Barry, we see another theme in the feedback that we have not observed to the same degree in other schools. ISZL is an especially caring and supportive community that values friendships. There is a real sense of joy and laughter, providing space for learning that is not only challenging but also fun. And, ISZL is a place of kindness". This was comforting to hear, particularly when considering the life lesson shared by scholar George Saunders who admitted, “what I regret most in my life are failures of kindness”.
An exceptional school with these characteristics does not happen by accident. Our students embody these dispositions every day. It is also a credit to our extraordinary teachers and staff members who work with such talent and passion, and to our families, whose support and partnership are deeply appreciated.
In addition to the many celebrations and ceremonies that accompany the end of each school year, the completion of another school cycle also marks the departure of students, families, and teachers. I would like to wish our departing community members all the best as they leave to embrace new adventures and experiences. We hope that those leaving us will carry with them in their hearts the unique sense of family spirit found at ISZL and a feeling of pride to have been a member of the ISZL community.
I would also like to wish everyone an enjoyable, engaging, and restful holiday spent with family and friends and look forward to seeing returning community members in August.