My father joined me at Barton on Tuesday night for the choir concert – a beautiful demonstration of our students’ talents and effort – after we had celebrated dinner for his 84th birthday. I introduced him to a number of people and gave him a tour of the building. Afterwards, we went out for some raspberry chocolate chip ice cream at Sebastian Joe’s in Linden Hills (my favorite) and I asked him about his impressions of Barton. My father, a 38 year teaching veteran and poet, said very simply, “ there is a charm to the old building,, but I have never seen a school where the children are so all so engaged and where each one is so happy.” He nailed it. The creative curricular programming that engages our students is both palpable and consistent. It is a part of the Barton vibe.
This year has gone fast, but has included many exciting forays into the development of educational equity and progressive education. The Barton Learning Center has been a way that more than 100 Barton students have gotten additional time to gain mastery of standards in writing, reading, and math – while engaged with Barton teachers in an environment that aligns with our values. We honored five more diverse elders from our community while celebrating our rich cultural diversity through food, art, and song. We had more than 90 6th and 7th grade students apply and interview for our Student Leadership Team, that will include Dare 2 Be Real, Backpack Tutor, Green Team, Open Ambassadors, and the Tech Squad. This is an increase from our 58 students involved in student leadership this year. We also started a Gay-Straight Alliance with our 7th and 8th graders. This GSA met monthly during lunch to look at ways to increase tolerance. Our staff Equity Team and Instructional Leadership Team combined to conduct six learning walks to develop their leadership capacity in those respective areas and use it to inform and implement our professional development for all staff. Our staff continues to enrich through creative field trips and positive student experiences. Our community continues to give of their time and resources.
Last year we thrived in a year of transition and change. I am certain that this coming year will bring even more opportunities for students to sing, dance, write, act, debate, dream, and learn about their courses, their hopes, and about standing up for and alongside each other. The voices and faces that have long walked these halls have left legacies of love and learning that have been honored through the collaboration of caring adults who work to sustain and further develop ways to teach the whole child and serve our entire community.
I am grateful for the active and caring community we have at Barton. I encourage us, collectively, to focus on closing out this school year positively and putting our energy into the leadership transition that is sure to happen in the coming weeks. My hope for our community is that we can engage deeply in the joy and beauty that accompanies the rituals of closing out the school year and that all of us will join our new staff members next year to see the joy and engagement that my father so readily saw in his short time at Barton this week.