We are one month into the 2021 school year and it is clear that the full energy of Tampa Prep has returned! It is wonderful. A quick thank you to our seniors, the Class of 2022. They are leading the energy wave, and I am grateful for their enthusiasm!
Another warm welcome to the 177 new Terrapins and their families - our opening enrollment of 705 is the largest enrollment in school history and speaks to the excitement we all have for an incredible school year!
The Tampa Prep curriculum features a wealth of opportunities for students to find their passions and be exposed to diverse thinking and the development of diverse skills. Math and Science have to be rooted in an appreciation for History, English, the Arts, and Languages, and vice versa. We also must include physical education and sports as they create a platform for lifelong physical and mental health and wellness. Each of the basic components of education feeds the opportunity for engagement, future growth, and leadership.
Education will have an impact on what can and cannot be done in the future. Helping kids see the world as a place of opportunity, hope and possibilities, rooted in a strong foundation of academic rigor, and character, will in all likelihood set the greatest conditions for opportunity, leadership, and success in future endeavors. Children, and their education, literally hold the future in their hands.
The future is now. Developing opportunities to build and strengthen student autonomy in their learning and the pathways to finding success is also critical. Admittedly, there are incredible benefits to structure, in particular external structures (classes, homework, tests and quizzes), and it is argued by many that the human condition actually craves structure. But, the reality is this, external structure is sometimes not present in a hectic world with competing demands and obligations. There are moments when it is incumbent upon us, as individuals, to know how to craft structure, time, and space, in order to create the conditions, and the environment, where we can succeed. The process is not easy, and candidly it sometimes requires failure. We all know the legend of the number of failures Edison experienced before the working lightbulb was developed. What if he did not have the resilience to persist in the face of failure? Working through failure, through adversity, through the uncomfortable, through the insecurity and through the ennui is, in the end, what often separates success from failure. Developing the skills to learn independently will be a critical skill to access opportunities in the future, particularly those that appear quickly on the horizon and demand early skill adopters (remember how foreign the word coding has been in the past for education)
I also hope part of our collective journey together is to help kids find the silver lining in Adversity. That capital “A” represents the many facets of adversity such as, but not limited to, not meeting a deadline, a lack of preparation, less than ideal conditions for achievement, and understanding what a healthy measure of loneliness is. Not meeting a deadline is a time to examine and reframe time management. Lack of preparation is an opportunity to examine organizational skills, materials management, and understanding what was required. A healthy measure of loneliness can be recast as time for rest, reflection, the pursuit of a hobby, free reading, and the all important human understanding of loneliness versus being alone, and/or depression. These are just a few examples of finding the silver linings for the sake of personal, intellectual, and emotional health, in what feels like adversity and disappointment. Growing the capacity to not feel overwhelmed by the challenge of the moment, in the doing we become a human example of intellectual, emotional, and psychological sustainability.
In the end education is preparation and preparation is education. The bounty and opportunity for the future of education is inextricably linked to how education facilitates, and how learners pursue, an excellent education.
Prep, I feel confident that we’re all going to have an incredible year!
Kevin Plummer, Head of School