Reflections a Quarter into the Year

Dr. Jessie Barrie, Head of School
It is slightly mind-blowing to believe that we are already a quarter of the way through this school year. That said, it also has been profoundly refreshing and rejuvenating to have witnessed a sense of normalcy return to campus after the disruptions of the past 19 months. Having all of our students here each day, gathering in Morning Meetings, welcoming our parents and guardians at Back-to-School Night, experiencing the stream of middle schoolers coming in for daily candy and conversation, seeing the excitement of prospective new students starting their buddy days, reinstituting rich academic, athletic, and community experiences—these simple joys fill me with such deep gratitude for the place we are currently in as a school. While COVID-19 persists around us, it no longer exists as the dominant influence in our community, and we continue to see that our COVID-safe practices work to curb transmission on campus. 

Last spring we collected feedback from our annual surveys—student satisfaction survey, staffulty satisfaction survey, and family satisfaction survey. In light of such an atypical year, we considered skipping the surveys. I am so glad we circulated them because your responses, although fewer than in years past, continue to provide great reflections on the strengths of the school and growth opportunities.  

When asked what three adjectives best describe Bosque School, the following words generated the most consistent responses: community, challenging, engaging, inclusive, caring, safe, and innovative. These are words that align deeply with our mission and core values; it is reassuring to see these words persist to describe us, even after such a challenging time of adjustment and change. 

Some very positive and validating trends that came from the surveys included:
  • 86% of students strongly agree or agree with the statement: “I feel like Bosque School is helping me grow as a student.” 
  • 83% of students strongly agree or agree with the statement: “My teachers value my creativity and curiosity.”
  • 81% of students strongly agree or agree with the statement: “I find the school safe, welcoming, and inclusive.”
  • 91% of parents and guardians strongly agree or agree with the statement: “My child’s critical thinking skills have been enhanced by their Bosque education.”
  • 91% of parents and guardians strongly agree or agree with the statement: “Bosque School has a strong commitment to educating the whole child.”
  • 90% of parents and guardians strongly agree or agree with the statement: “Most of the time my child(ren) looks forward to going to Bosque School.”

In terms of growth opportunities, the statement that scored the lowest in regards to overall positivity was, “Bosque School’s policies are clear and applied equitably and effectively” (73% positivity for parents and guardians and 70% positivity for students). As a school, I have observed very consistent, thoughtful, and mission-aligned decision making at the hands of school administrators and our upper school student and staffulty Judicial Committee (JC). That said, the lower positivity rankings and perceptions provide a clear opportunity for growth regarding communications and appropriate transparency. In past years, our JC has met with various upper school student groups to review school policies to build understanding and collaboration. Clearly, COVID-19 has made this difficult, but our JC is planning to resume this practice this year. Our leadership team, alongside our Equity, Community, and Culture staffulty committee will continue to explore growth opportunities in this area. 

Another opportunity for growth comes from providing more consistent ways to collect feedback and hear the voices of our students, staffulty, parents, and guardians. This feedback is fair and unsurprising following a year and a half of near-constant COVID-19 crisis-related decision making that was layered by the physical and emotional splintering of our community. The recent conditions that existed for us as a school made it impossible to maintain the level of transparency and collaboration we would hope for. The goal to rebuild collaboration and provide authentic feedback opportunities is a priority this year. Already we have facilitated a series of student listening sessions and surveys, and we have created enhanced parent and guardian engagement nights and alumni town halls. In addition, we are launching a staffulty committee to design a more comprehensive and sustainable staffulty growth, reflection, and recognition process. We are also about to embark on seeking schoolwide feedback regarding our new schedule, and from that feedback,  will be considering potential tweaks for next year. Now that we have hopefully transitioned out of the crisis of the past 19 months, we are rebuilding and bolstering our collaborative and community-focused culture.  

I want to take a moment to thank each of you who provided feedback—both formal and informal—over the past year. I spent hours this summer poring over every piece of feedback, looking at historical trends, and identifying with the leadership team, along with the board of trustees, the key themes that both validate our work and provide us a roadmap for improvement. Your feedback is heard, it is seen, and it is deeply appreciated. Please keep it coming. 

I also must thank all of you for voting for Bosque School in the Albuquerque Journal Readers’ Choice Awards. Your support resulted in the school being named the Best Private School in the city for the second year in a row and the Best Summer Camp in the city for the fourth year in a row. This feedback means so much to us and will help more mission-aligned families find the magic of Bosque School. Our new admissions season has started in earnest and the best support you can provide is to encourage families to come learn more about Bosque School. All information about our admissions process can be found on our website

Fall is my favorite time of year. It is a time of rejuvenation and reflection. In one of my recent middle school Morning Meeting presentations, I shared a favorite (unattributed) quote, “The trees are about to show us how lovely it is to let things go.” I spoke with the students about the idea of reflecting on what they might be holding onto that is time to let go of—an old grudge with a friend, a fixed mindset, the hold that COVID-19 has had on every element of our lives, etc. To me, the end of the first quarter reflects the success of making it through the hectic start of the school year. Now, we welcome a downshift to a more steady rhythm, settle into routines, give ourselves permission to take a breath, sit with the feedback of the first quarter, make minor adjustments, and find a steady pace through the more quiet second and third quarters, preparing for that accelerated pace of the final quarter. We enter the coming months with clear direction from your feedback and strength from your support. Again, thank you.

I am so grateful to be sharing this community with you.

Jessie Barrie, PhD
Head of School