First Days by Tim Croft, Assistant Head of the Lower School

On a recent weekend drive, I was struck by the vibrant fall foliage illuminated by speckled light shyly peeking out from behind scattered clouds.
It was as if I was seeing the trees and surrounding landmarks for the first time. In my explorations as a fresh transplant it seems that I have been laser focused on each destination, missing details of scenery and landscape along the way. I had remarked about this widening awareness at a recent Parents’ Association meeting, observing that this is often the experience of the stranger in a new land. Developing a comfort with familiar routes and discovering how pathways, that are interconnected, and contribute to gaining one’s bearings, are key to seeing through that wide-angle lens of awareness.

I liken my experience of being new to Nashoba Brooks School to that of every student who is starting a new grade. Getting your bearings takes some time and effort. While I may have spent time familiarizing myself with the most efficient route to the bathroom, students put great effort into familiarizing themselves with class materials and routines. Students connect with one another, in friendship and as co-learners, developing a sense of belonging that is essential for taking intellectual risks. Similarly, I am spending time learning names, because hearing one’s name is the first indication that you matter to the person using it. As students and I are getting our bearings, our senses are afforded the opportunity to open up to a technicolor landscape rich with things to learn, discoveries to make, and innovations to explore.

I am excited and energized by the technicolor landscape that is unfolding for me at Nashoba Brooks. Hearing preschoolers excitedly share their discoveries from skimming the pond behind Noble Field, learning that amongst their treasures are dragonfly nymphs, is proof positive that they emanate a sense of wonder. The siren song of Grade 3 rappers and playwrights practicing their unique delivery of the Spanish alphabet in the hallway is too hard to resist, beckoning to anyone in earshot to investigate with awe. Students bravely seize the opportunity to teach others on a large scale, such as when Grade 1 shared their expertise on bees during assembly, teaching us what bees are and aren’t, what bees do and don’t do. Children in Extended Day watching field hockey practice, seeing older students practice difficult skills and drills while jamming out to hip-pop beats, inspires young athletes to work hard, work together and to have fun. The topography of the Nashoba Brooks landscape is defined by mutual respect, a wealth of courage, a strong collaborative spirit, unbound creativity, and insatiable joy.

What drew me to Nashoba Brooks is what I sensed to be found deep within its soil. Fred Rogers said that “Love is at the root of everything—all learning, all parenting, and all relationships—love or the lack of it.” Students, teachers and administrators are steadfast in their search for understanding, approaching one another and the curriculum with fervent curiosity. The skill with which teachers at Nashoba Brooks seamlessly connect concepts and content to the lives and experiences of students is nothing short of inspiring. By making meaningful connections, children in the Lower School are applying what they’re learning to their growing awareness of the world. With that developing awareness, it doesn’t take much digging to see what matters to students and how they want to affect change. Nurturing student passions and empowering their sense of agency are acts of love found in abundance at Nashoba Brooks.

When not at school, I am actively engaged in putting down my own roots. I have found the “harsh New England hospitality” to be a misnomer, as colleagues, parents, and neighbors are more than willing to share a kindness or guide me to a hidden gem or favorite haunt. The added benefit of visiting these destinations is that they are inextricably linked in my mind to the people who recommended them. Finding a welcoming group of Ultimate Frisbee players to satisfy my need to chase plastic as a weekend warrior has been a pleasant discovery in the neighboring town of Newton. Supporting my aspiring teenage baker provides many opportunities to connect (no small task with a teenager), hone new skills, and apply the kitchen sciences. Fortunately, there have been willing subjects at School to test our creations. Fortifying these roots with the kindness of this community is sure to keep them healthy for the coming winter, which I hear is likely to be different than what I am used to.

If it is not apparent, I am truly grateful for this community. Grateful for a landscape rich with learning, bolstered by curiosity, enriched by kindness, and rooted in love. What a wonderful place to discover what’s next!

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Situated on a beautiful 30-acre campus in historic Concord, Massachusetts, Nashoba Brooks School serves boys and girls in Preschool through Grade 3, and girls in Grades 4 through 8. Nashoba Brooks is an independent school designed to build community, character, and confidence in its students.
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