Headmaster’s Greeting by Cosmo F. Terrigno, Ed.S.
For as long as I can remember, I have always envisaged a career as a teacher, professor, and, eventually an administrator.
This growth, both professionally and personally, has proven to me that it is necessary for me, as an educator, to be a lifelong learner–one who continues to develop his personal and professional codes through real awareness. The curricula that I teach my students and the manner in which Woodland Country Day School nurtures and enriches the lives of its students must continuously change and grow to meet the demands of the times and the students served. As an educator, I have a debt to society—a debt that guarantees I will afford each student who crosses my professional path every opportunity to realize his or her greatest potential for success and fulfillment in learning, and in life. I must uphold “a deep concern for the welfare of the school as a community, a concept that extends beyond the school walls and into the local community, taking into account not only the students, teachers, and administrators, but also families,” for this is where strength in education is found. (Shapiro 12).
Clearly as Foster states, “each…decision carries with it a restructuring of human life” (4). That is why every decision made in the course of being an educator must be executed in a manner that best serves the student and enriches his or her life and learning experience so that a love of learning is embraced and fostered at any age. The experiences and lessons that I provide must lead the student to develop a sense of who he or she is and that in which he or she believes– both personally and professionally. Witherell and Noddings write, “To educate is to take seriously both the quest for life’s meaning and the meaning of individual lives” (208). I concur.
Every child learns differently, and each is a unique life that deserves the opportunity to flourish as he or she sets out to learn and grow in a safe, nurturing environment. All children, all students, all people are inherently lifelong learners. As an educator, I am responsible for discovering and nurturing each of my students’ strengths and interests, and helping each to realize, embrace, and work through his or her perceived shortcomings in a safe environment that respect and promotes the privacy of every one of my charges. Students should be empowered through learning, and they should use that drive to seek further knowledge—knowledge that exists beyond the confines of our classrooms. Students must be inspired and taught to understand and embrace the benefits of lifelong learning.
By creating a learning environment that is open, safe, honest, and void of destructive criticism, I am of the expectation that those entrusted to my care will be able to speak their minds and learn from one another’s experiences and beliefs. The authentic learning experiences in our schools must be meaningful and valuable and go beyond the limits of teaching to the test. This requires a concentrated effort on the part of individuals. As educators, we’re responsible for shaping the lives of the youth who are entrusted to our care. Students must be taught to understand the importance of self-reliance, hard work, accountability, and civility. As an educator, I must “have a moral commitment beyond self toward those less fortunate and those who are different from me toward the concept of social justice and social responsibility” (211).
This responsibility is one that I have taken and will continue to take seriously for many years, for it is in the best interest of those students entrusted to my care. I must always be ready to make, “wise, ethical decisions in [this] complex, chaotic, and contradictory era” (9).
Cosmo F. Terrigno, Ed.S.
Shapiro, Joan Poliner, and Jacqueline Anne Stefkovich. Ethical leadership and decision making in education: applying theoretical perspectives to complex dilemmas. 4th ed. New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2016. Print.