The Weekly Bulldog

September 13, 2018

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From Tim: Personalism at Stanley

Dear Families,

We look forward to sharing our program, and providing some insights into your children’s school experience, at our Back to School Nights this evening and next Thursday. Among the takeaways, I hope you get a sense for how we value and celebrate the uniqueness of each of our students. We take our mission to “value distinct contributions” seriously.

In a recent New York Times post, columnist David Brooks talks about the tendency in our culture to label and categorize people, based on such things as the way they vote, where they live, what they do for work, in a manner that discounts the rich complexity that actually makes up every person. We do this, he offers, because we all have busy lives, and it’s hard to take the time to really understand what makes someone who they are. He references people like Walt Whitman, Martin Luther King and Pope John Paul II who in one way or another reflected a “personalist” philosophy in their work. As Brooks describes it, “Personalism is a philosophic tendency built on the infinite uniqueness and depth of each person.” It assures the basic dignity and worth of every person, regardless of one’s success or status as defined by our achievement culture. “Every human encounter is a meeting of equals,” he writes, “Doing community service isn’t about saving the poor; it’s a meeting of absolute equals as both seek to change and grow.” Personalism asks that, as much as we are able, we get to know a person’s stories and realize that “everybody is in a struggle you know nothing about.” (Which reminds me of a quote I seem to return to over and over- “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle”- source unclear).

In addition to seeking to understand the wholeness of others, personalism calls on us to be “self-gifting,” to give yourself as a gift to people and causes you care about and to receive such gifts from others. To do so, you need to find time in a busy life, for being available takes intention.

Brooks ends his piece with a critical look at the organizations that define how we live. “Personalism demands that we change the way we structure our institutions. A company that treats people as units to simply maximize shareholder return is showing contempt for its own workers. Schools that treat students as brains on a stick are not preparing them to leave whole lives.”

We often talk about a “whole-child” focus at Stanley. Though we haven’t described that approach as “personalist,” it seems to fit well. We know, like Froebel knew many years ago, that education is fundamentally a relationship between a teacher and a person being taught. Effective teaching is about all aspects of a child’s development and an embracing that the intellectual, creative, social, physical, and spiritual aspects of a young person are connected and all in need of nourishment. We continually ask ourselves as a teaching community at Stanley how a child’s day, week, and year at our school serves to recognize and honor all that makes up who the child is. It’s never done, nor is learning.

All the best,


Stanley Math Teacher Nat Featured at Local Designer Showcase

6th-grade math teacher (and woodworker) Nat Oliver has created several beautiful pieces for Stanley – the teacher tree in Hambidge Commons, our lovely podium for the ballroom… Through Sept. 23, The Denver Life Magazine Designer Showhouse in Wash Park will feature a table by Nat (among many other artists). The show is open to the public (tickets on sale at the door) and benefits Habitat for Humanity.