In Education, Relationships Matter

head of school chats with students playing cards with snacks at the governor's academy private high school in byfield ma
Head of School Peter H. Quimby, Ph.D. '85 P'14

Why Students, and Teachers, Thrive in Caring Communities

Over the years, business people have sometimes asked me whether I thought the future of boarding schools would be threatened by advances in technology. They wondered whether boarding schools would be necessary when students could simply go online and access content from great teachers from the comfort of their own homes. I always expressed my view that online learning could never replace the tremendous value that students receive from being physically present with teachers and coaches and dorm parents and advisors who are fully invested in guiding them in their development in all areas of their lives, not just the classroom. Unfortunately, it took a global pandemic to demonstrate just how harmful it is for children to be isolated from each other and from adults who truly care for them. The benefits of a boarding school education have never been more clear–and I have never been more proud to be a part of a community that places relationships at the center of its work.

When I addressed our students and faculty at the start of the school year, I talked about what it means to me to be a part of The Governor’s Academy’s community. While our students are not our children, the connections we have with them extend far beyond the relationships that typically form in a high school setting. The relationships that adults have with students, and that students have with each other, are animated by a deep sense of caring, respect, and appreciation. They are animated, I would argue, by Govs Love. Govs Love inspires faculty and staff members to devote their personal and professional lives to the care, development, and education of young people–24/7 when school is in session. Govs Love creates a community in which students know, deep in their hearts, that there are adults who are totally invested in them and are giving of themselves to help them identify, and realize, their dreams. Govs Love leads students to develop relationships with each other that help them figure out who they are and what truly matters to them–relationships that will, in many cases, last for a lifetime.

As we begin a new school year, I am excited to see how this year’s unique constellation of students and adults breathes life into the promise of Govs Love as we study together in classrooms, compete together on teams, perform together on the stage, gather over meals together in the dining hall, bond together over conversations and laughter in the dorms and in the student center, and, selfishly for me, in Dr. Laurie’s and my home on Friday evenings. (Friday nights in the Mansion House are the highlight of my week–every week–all year long.) The Governor’s Academy is the independent school that those of us who live and work here love not because of any external factors that dictate what the character of the community will be, but because of how we choose to live in community together. We are here together, with each other and for each other, building and rebuilding Govs Love every year through the small things that we do each day to create a community where caring for each other matters. This is what creates the relationships that allow all members of our independent school community to thrive–and allows us to offer the finest possible educational experience for our students. It is an honor to be a part of this kind of community, and students and adults thrive here as a result.

Author: Head of School Peter H. Quimby, Ph.D. '85 P'14

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