A Teacher’s Powerful Story of Pain and Love

By Eric Niles, Head of School

I have long felt that telling one’s story is a critical part of connecting with students.  When I was teaching classes rather than administrating, I always set aside the first day of class to tell my story, to make myself more real and human to my students.  My story has dramatic and poignant moments, but nothing like the story of Mark Lukach, one of our Upper School Humanities teachers, and his wife, Guilia.  It talks of pain and love to their deepest extent.  It is human.  It is his story, and our students should know that his life, his teaching, is impacted by his unique experiences.  And they should know that we adults don’t get to his place without deep sorrows, missteps, and concerns.  As we echo Kurt Hahn‘s words to our students embarking on the Athenian Wilderness Experience (AWE): “There is more in you than you know.”  The adults in their lives can let them know how true that is.

It is a long read, but well worth it.

Heads of Schools Model Collaboration

By Eric Niles, Head of School

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of starting the new year by presenting to the Athenian Parent Association about innovative programs at Athenian.  Among the things we discussed was the work of the Bay Area BlendEd Consortium.  This, you will recall, is a consortium of five Bay-Area schools that are offering blended (online and face-to-face) courses to our juniors and seniors.  Check out the courses offered this spring.

As I walked away from that presentation I recognized how energized and excited I am about the collaboration with four other heads of school that led to this project.  Monique DeVane (College Preparatory School), Eric Temple (Lick-Wilmerding High School), Travis Brownley (Marin Academy) and Mark Salkind (The Urban School of San Francisco) have become respected colleagues, friends, and thought partners for me.  Our schools are each unique, yet we understand the powerful learning that can happen if we bring our students together to follow their passions, meet each other and new teachers, take advantage of Bay Area resources, and better navigate the world of online learning.  I am thankful that I live and work in a place that fosters such innovation and collaboration.  And I am thankful for colleagues that see me more as a peer than a competitor and understand that the differences in our missions should not get in the way of serving our students in new and powerful ways.  We are, after all, each in the “business” of providing a great education to young people and hoping that they, in turn, will make the world a better place.   The BlendEd Consortium is helping us to do just that—together.