Grounded in Our New Mission

Head of School, Dr. Jessie Barrie
A true gift of our first day of school was my participation in the beautiful “Senior Sunrise” tradition, where our seniors gathered in the north lot to watch the sunrise on the first day of their final year of high school. As I observed them reconnecting and chattering through masks and from their socially distanced cars, I was reminded of a favorite quote:  “The Salutation of the Dawn.” I spent a month each summer from the ages of 9–13 attending a wilderness summer camp, and every morning the entire camp would gather to raise the flag and collectively share this poem: 

Look to this day!
For it is life, the very life of life. 
In its brief course 
Lie all the verities and realities of your existence. 
The bliss of growth, 
The glory of action, 
The splendor of achievement
Are but experiences of time.
 
For yesterday is but a dream
And tomorrow is only a vision; 
But today, well lived, makes every yesterday 
a dream of happiness 
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.
 
~Kalidasa, Sanskrit author
 
Saying these words each morning on the shores of Lake Tanamakoon was grounding to each of us. The words gave us a shared commitment as we commenced each day, as a community. As we launch Bosque’s 26th year in such an unprecedented time of uncertainty, we will be grounding our work and our common commitments deeply in our school’s new mission statement and values. We spent last year engaging in a comprehensive process of rewriting Bosque’s mission statement. This was the first update to the mission in the school’s 25-year history, and it was important that we revised it to reflect the school of today and tomorrow. This is Bosque School’s new mission: To create transformative learning experiences that empower a diverse community of students to lead lives of intellectual curiosity, personal integrity, and compassionate contribution to a more just world.  
 
We also updated our accompanying core values, the tools we will use to manifest our new mission: 

1. Inspiring Academic Excellence: We design learning experiences that inspire students to explore challenging concepts and ideas and to be daring in their pursuit of deep understanding.  Our academic program is grounded in inquiry and prizes curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking.  Decisions of content and pedagogy reflect the diverse and changing world in which we live and offer a pathway to discovering individual passions and how to live ethically.

2. Cultivating Community: We strive to be an intentionally diverse community and know that people thrive when their individual voices are heard and valued as part of a caring collective.  We foster and tend meaningful relationships and shared responsibility for a vibrant and healthy school culture.  And because we believe learning doesn’t end at the campus edge, we proactively engage with the larger community. 

3. Fostering Integrity:
We believe that the acquisition of knowledge is incomplete without the simultaneous development of ethical principles and compassion.  We expect students to act with integrity, to contribute positively to the Bosque community, and to be courageous and honest learners and leaders. In partnership with families, we guide students to grow from their experiences and develop resilience in the face of challenges.

4. Learning from Place:
We are a community of learners rooted in the ancestral homelands of Puebloan peoples in the Rio Grande bosque. The complex cultural and ecological story of the bosque offers an extraordinary extension of our classrooms and serves as a call to action to care for the environment as a whole.

I hope you will take the time to watch my Convocation address. I speak in more detail about our new mission and values, and how we plan to manifest them this year, regardless of the teaching and learning model we utilize.

We will also be focusing on three key priorities for the year, each grounded in our new mission and core values:

1. Excellence in teaching, learning, and community. 
    • Pandemic or not, we cannot deviate from excellence in teaching, learning, and community. To accomplish this, we will provide our staffulty with consistent, high-quality instructional support and ensure our students receive mission-aligned instruction, responsive technology assistance, and thoughtful social-emotional support (through our newWILLDS” programming that represents our enhanced curriculum of student Wellness, Identity, Leadership, Life skills, Diversity, and Service).
  
    • We are also committed to continued progress in manifesting our academic strategic plan, launched in 2019. The pandemic, and the shift to remote teaching and learning, has deepened our understanding of time and content and enhanced our creativity in delivering core skills and meeting learning goals. The skills our teachers are developing are deeply aligned with the design work to come this year as we rethink our graduation requirements, core classes, schedule, and the launch of immersives. If at any point we need to adjust our timeline due to the challenges of the pandemic, we will; but as of now, we are hopeful and excited to work towards the great changes to come in the next academic year. 

2. Excellence in our work toward the manifestation of our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Principles and Best Practices for All Bosque Employees.
    • Bosque’s DEI Principles and Best Practices for All Employees was created over multiple years with significant staffulty involvement. While this will be a continually evolving document (and one we hope to adapt for student and family versions), we are very excited to formally launch this as a core document and one that will ground our DEI and community commitments.

    • As I shared in the “Standing in Solidarity” letter on 6/4/20, while we continue to struggle to adapt to a medical pandemic, we are also deeply conscious of the ingrained and relentless pandemic of the institutionalized racism, inequality, and white privilege that exists in our country. As a school, we acknowledge the disproportionate struggles of our students, staffulty, and families of color; we pledge our support and sustained commitment to those in our community and beyond who are impacted by racism. Bosque’s core value of community requires a deep commitment to creating an equal and sustained sense of inclusion, belonging, and voice for all of our students and families. We seek to be an ally to the black community and all communities of color. We want to contribute consistently and constructively to creating a more just and equitable society and world. To do this, we must acknowledge and accept the insidious nature of racism, evaluate and update our structures and systems, and ground ourselves in education to ensure the lessons of the past inform equality now and in the future. We will continue to build our staffulty’s skills in diversity, equity, and inclusion, and enhance all of our toolkits to engage in constructive discourse. We assume shared and sustained responsibility and accountability to break the patterns of injustice that exist.  We will use our DEI Principles and Best Practices for All Employees as a roadmap for continued commitment and improvements in supporting these goals. 
 
    • Please look for a future BUZZ piece that will outline the specific and tangible work that Bosque has done over the years to support our commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as some of the initiatives we will be launching this coming year. I am always eager to learn from our students, alumni, families, and staffulty on how we can better manifest our commitments. I am grateful for each of your partnerships in this critical work toward a more equitable and just future. 

3. Excellence in enhancing financial strength and sustainability.
  • Philanthropy:
    • We have renamed our Office of Development to the Office of Philanthropy, which better recognizes the goodwill expressed within our community through the significant donation of time, talent, and treasure from each of you. The Office of Philanthropy works to build and strengthen our entire community in support of the mission of Bosque School. 
    • We also rebranded our “Annual Fund” to the “Bosque Fund.” The Bosque Fund will support every student, every program, every day, every year. The focus of this year’s Bosque Fund will be on gifts to the “Area of Greatest Need” which support the increased operational expenses connected to educating during a pandemic. We are also deeply committed to keeping our community intact and meeting the increased financial aid requests from families who have seen their businesses closed, their incomes slashed, and their futures suddenly uncertain. Last spring, we raised an additional $40,000 in support of enhanced financial aid via the Community Commitment Fund, but the needs continue to grow. This year, 64% of Bosque students receive some level of financial support to attend Bosque. 
    • Last year our participation levels in the Bosque Fund increased significantly across every constituent group, and the dollars raised greatly enhanced the educational experience of our students. We are committed to continuing to increase participation this year; our goal is to have 100% participation from staffulty, parents, and guardians. Please help us reach this goal by making a gift today to the Bosque Fund. Through our online form, please consider making a monthly recurring gift.  This will increase the impact of your gift by spreading it throughout the year into easy monthly payments. A monthly gift of $83 adds up to nearly $1,000 for our students, staffulty, and programs in one year!
  • Admissions 
    • Bosque continues to establish itself as a school of choice in Albuquerque. Our admissions yield increased by over 20% last year, and we had a VERY busy summer admissions season with a 90% conversion rate of applicants! 
    • Almost daily, we are being approached by families who are reconsidering their current educational opportunities. We are doing all we can to support this interest with our few remaining spots. If you have friends or family who might be interested in exploring Bosque for this or future academic years, please reach out to Ryan Hannon, Director of Enrollment & Communications

These three priorities are all grounded in our new mission, values, and core documents. They will help us maintain clarity in our focus, work towards excellence throughout and beyond the pandemic, and make continued progress in key focus areas. 

So as we launch this “new [ab]normal” school year, please know that we are very thoughtfully upholding our commitments to your children, your connections to Bosque, and our continued excellence as a school and community.  Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions or feedback at any point. 

Happy new school year,  everyone! I am so grateful to be back in community with each of you! 

Jessie Barrie, PhD
Head of School 
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