Colorado Rocky Mountain School - Balancing Intellect with a Moral Scope

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Colorado Rocky Mountain School - Balancing Intellect with a Moral Scope

Head of School letter for December 2009
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Colorado Rocky Mountain School - Balancing Intellect with a Moral Scope
Wednesday, December 30, 2009 - 5:04pm


It is a common theme in independent school education that intellect must be balanced by a moral scope. I have always believed that Colorado Rocky Mountain School does an amazing job of preparing its students for college and later life by giving them a solid foundation in both areas. However, a recent dinner with an alumnus during my travels through Asia helped me to see it even better from a student's perspective.

This past fall during my trip to Tokyo, I had the pleasure of meeting Taro Tomisawa, a recent alumnus who currently works for a Japanese foundation. Taro was my guide that evening; not only through an unfamiliar cuisine but also in sharing what he felt was the unique educational gift that Colorado Rocky Mountain School had given him. As we savored our way through an assortment of dishes that required an explanation and an eating strategy, Taro surprised me with an impressive insight about CRMS. He told me that he has come to strongly believe that performing community service is one of the most important values that our school has to share with the world. He came to this conclusion after realizing that during his time here his sense of service became habitual and that since graduating from CRMS five years ago and attending Colorado College, he has found it challenging to find the opportunities to do more to improve the communities in which he has lived and worked.

As the Head of School, I have the unique opportunity of seeing first-hand the impact our program has on people. Alumni often tell me about the difference the CRMS experience has meant in their lives and the importance of the unique opportunities that were available to them. On occasion some alumni will reflect on the depth and breadth of our program and how they wish that they had been more involved and taken advantage of what was offered here. Others have lamented that, in retrospect, four years was simply not enough time. Most alumni ask that we never get rid of the household job and work crew programs, because they taught them skills that they would later need. Few, however, have framed it in the way that Taro did for me that evening in Tokyo. His assessment that CRMS is unique in that it inculcates the value of service through the entire program is something that we probably take for granted, because it is a part of our daily lives and culture.

In our most recent alumni newsletter, we highlight some wonderful programs that are a part of the school community as a result of the passion and interest of student leaders: Operation Smile, FaceAIDS, Soles 4 Souls, and Random Acts of Kindness. All of these student-initiated clubs do a wonderful job of getting us to think beyond ourselves. They hold true to the spirit of progressive education that seeks to create involved, knowledgeable, and skilled citizens.

Preparation for college begins with a strong academic foundation, but knowledge without an applied sense of value and purpose has a limited scope. This combination of knowledge and values is something that as educators we all believe in, but it is what Taro helped me to see in a different light that evening. My conversation with Taro has since had me thinking about this sense of service on a more day-to- day level, the very spirit of service from which these clubs and programs originate. For Taro it was simply a way of life, a habit, and a way of seeing the world. The value of service became so integral to Taro's life that he views it as the most important aspect of his CRMS experience.

Creating students who view service as a key part of their lives, so much so that they must seek it out to feel satisfied and complete, is ultimately what we are striving for. As we move into the second semester, it is important to remind ourselves that some of the mundane aspects of our lives (i.e. household jobs, work crews, cleaning the dormitories and rooms, and random acts of kindness) are really wonderful opportunities that if taken with an open mind will forge a life-long belief. This awareness was recently manifested in a student's noticing and acting upon a need that resulted in a group effort to provide a disabled neighbor with some new winter clothing. It is in the team spirit that was generated from hard-working soccer players and a school that supports them. It was in the way that the school finished the first semester strong with final exams, an exceptional art show, a band concert, and a climbing competition.

We look forward to having your students back on campus next week and to continuing this legacy of education and service.

Have a wonderful, healthy, and happy New Year.

Best wishes,

Jeff Leahy
Head of School