Dear Escalante Middle School Community,
One of our slogans at Escalante is, “We are Crew, not passengers.” In a landlocked state that is hours away from the closest crew competition, the link to an obscure boating sport is somewhat strange.
However, it does create a powerful metaphor that aptly guides our cultural aspirations as a school.
In order for a Crew team to be effective, everyone on the boat must pull together and give a synchronized, maximum effort toward a common goal. Similarly, a classroom is most efficient when everyone in the room gives their complete effort toward the common goal of attaining an education. When one person is off-task or lazy, the entire culture of the room takes a hit, just as one lazy oarsman negatively impacts the overall performance of the team. No one should be a passenger - we all need to grab an oar and be involved. Even more dramatic are acts of harassment or bullying, which is similar to an oarsman actively trying to row the wrong way!
As a principal, I spend a lot of time working with individuals to solve problems, correct mistakes, and get back on track to work toward that final destination - a great educational experience. However, I also have countless moments each day at Escalante that are filled with joy and satisfaction. Today alone I observed a math classroom engaged in an extremely difficult grapple problem based on a real world dilemma. Every student was engaged in a productive struggle to figure it out, and the teacher was actively providing feedback, encouragement, and excitement about the students’ effort.
In woodshop I watched a class of 23 students working diligently to complete a variety of projects. Students would pull me aside to show me their projects with pride. They used words like craftsmanship and perseverance to describe their work ethic to build beautiful cutting boards, shelves, and tables. Those students waiting for wood glue to dry would actively find ways to help others in the class by holding vice grips or finding tools. At that moment, the class was the perfect Crew.
In a science classroom I witnessed students learning volume in a lab experience. Each group member had a defined job within the lab, and when the teacher released students to work they immediately accepted roles and responsibilities to accomplish their task.
On an afternoon where I have spent some time correcting instances of students rowing the other way, it really is deeply satisfying to reflect on our successes. So next time your child gets up from the table without clearing their dish, I encourage you to adopt our phrase and say, “Before you go, make sure you clean your area. We are part of the Escalante community, which means we are Crew, not passengers.”
Principal Jeremy Voss