The Tricky Balance of Care

By Brian Corley, Head of School

How often do you get a chance to think about the many different hats you wear in a day?

As I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know many of you, I would guess that some of your hats might look like mine: parent to your children, partner to your significant other, friend, coworker, leader, listener – truly, our hats would stack to the sky if we named them all. 

So again, you might relate, but it’s not always clear which hat I have to wear and when. And sometimes I have to wear many hats at once.

As Head of School and a parent here at Near North, this tricky balance is always front and center for me.

Some days, I want to be the first person in the office and the last person out. But I can’t double-up on my responsibilities at school without neglecting my shared responsibility at home. And it’s not fair or kind of me to ask Kellie to pick up my slack.

What I learned quickly in Fall 2021 is this: how I live at home is incredibly relevant to how I lead from the Head of School office.

I have the privilege of living out the Montessori partnership between home and school daily. And it’s only deepened my commitment to our community of care.

As we enter these winter months here at school, let’s ask ourselves what care looks like in 2022. I have a few ideas that I’d like to share below, but I hope that you’ll join me in creatively caring for one another over these next months:

  • We continue our strategic pause for our teachers and staff. This was part of the DNA of the start of our school year and then stressed in the findings after our ISACS accreditation visitation. We know for certain that this is a critical posture we must continue for the sake of our hardworking staff. This pause, of course, does not mean a lull in teaching, equity work, or Montessori itself. Instead, we must all take a deep breath and reflect on the great work that has been done and resist false urgency that could rush the important work that is still before us.
  • We continue to find creative ways to fold parents back into in-person opportunities at the school. We know there is something special and therapeutic about seeing and touching and experiencing the hallways and classrooms in person. The challenging work happens when, as we're experiencing on our return from Winter Break, the reality of COVID shifts. So we lean into creativity within the boundaries of safety. 
  • Caring for our students means leaning into Montessori in all we do. Care is not one size fits all. It requires a continued commitment by our wellness staff, our teachers, our academic directors, our equity staff, and many others to the individualized needs of our students. They deserve this sort of thoughtful care centered around individual dignity and autonomy, and our commitment to Montessori demands nothing less.

I want to invite you again into the reality of our many hats. We are not just teachers, administrators, business leaders, doctors, or restaurant owners – we are fully human.

Care for this community means to see and be seen. It requires us to respect the fullness of ourselves – with all the needs, wants, and dreams that come along with that. This kind of care is how our entire community, you, me, and all of our Near North students, can reach our inherent potential.