MAESA Matters March 2019


Greetings from MAESA! As we approach the final months of the 2018-2019 school year there is a temptation to rush forward into the many events that mark springtime in our communities. Instead, let us pause and ponder what it means to keep a holy lent in our homes and in our schools. During this season of preparation and discipline may you be fulfilled with the certainty of the promise of Easter.

The 2019 MAESA Scholars Fair on is on April 26th at National Cathedral School . The Scholars Fair welcomes students in 4th-8th grades to compete in events including a spelling bee, multimedia demonstration, geography bee, juried art and science events and a non-competitive design thinking challenge. Your school does not have to bring students in all grade levels or all event categories. If you've never participated before, consider brining a smaller group of students to compete in one or two areas. Registration forms are due on April 12 with payment for your school. Use this link to visit the landing page for the MAESA Scholars Fair where you can download the 2019 Scholars Fair registration form, agenda, event guidelines and rubrics. Please contact us to learn more if you're new to the MAESA Scholars Fair.

The MAESA Choral Evensong on February 10th was a beautiful service! If you couldn't attend you can still view it using this link. MAESA is very grateful to the Washington National Cathedral for its generosity in providing the video streaming services and our host St. Albans School and National Cathedral School. Pictured: The Reverend Scott Parnell of Christchurch School, Homilist and The Reverend Eva Cavaleri of National Cathedral School, Officiant; MAESA Combined Choir rehearsing in the nave; choristers from Christchurch School; students preparing to process with school banners. Images courtesy of MAESA and Christchurch School.
Featured News
In the February edition of "Why I Teach in an Episcopal School " , which follows, The Reverend Daniel S. Meck, Chaplain at St. Paul's School in Brooklandville, MD, explains with good humor how his vocation led him to serve in an Episcopal school.

In "Spread The Word" Christchurch School in Christchurch, VA shares how the school examined its Judicial Council practices to reflect a response that allows for redemption when some mistakes are made. We'd love to feature one of your faculty members or a school activity in MAESA Matters. Contact us to be included.
2019-2020 MAESA Event Dates
Next Up:
MAESA Scholars Fair: Friday, April 26, 2019 hosted with National Cathedral School . Registration forms and updated event guidelines can be found using this link

Upcoming MAESA Event Dates:

MAESA 2019 Members' Meeting : Friday, September 27, 2019 at 10a.m. at Episcopal High School in Alexandria, VA. MAESA is pleased to welcome Caroline Blackwell, Vice President for Equity and Justice at the National Association of Independent Schools as our keynote speaker in September.

MAESA 2019 Episcopal Schools Day Service in Washington, D.C. : Tuesday, October 8, 2019 at Washington National Cathedral hosted in partnership with Beauvoir The National Cathedral Elementary School .

MAESA 2019 Episcopal Schools Day Service in Richmond, VA : Wednesday October 16, 2019 at All Saints Church, Richmond, VA hosted in partnership with St. Catherine's School .

MAESA 2019 Early Childhood Conference: Friday, October 25, 2019 at St. Stephen's & St. Agnes School .

MAESA 2020 Choral Evensong : Sunday, February 9, 2020 at Washington National Cathedral in partnership with St. Albans School and National Cathedral School.
"Why I Teach in an Episcopal School"

The Reverend Daniel S. Meck
Chaplain, St. Paul's School

I felt called to teach in an Episcopal school when I was serving as the associate rector at a parish in Baltimore. In the midst of my ministry at St. David’s in the Roland Park neighborhood of Maryland’s largest city, I was discerning where my next call would take me. Of course, I thought I would find God leading me to another parish in the diocese. However, what caught my attention, and drew me toward what seemed like an exciting challenge, was an opening at St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes School in Alexandria. The year was 2004 and the positon was for Associate Chaplain. I was immediately intrigued by the possibility of having a ministerial presence in a school community and living into my priestly ministry in an academic setting. 

I was invited to visit the school, where I interviewed for the position, spending the day with many dedicated and talented teachers and administrators. Together, they painted a positive picture of both the school community and the important role of the chaplain’s duties of strengthening the spiritual life of the institution. I could envision myself as the resident guardian, steward, and advocate of their Episcopal identity. 

As I have come to learn and accept in my priestly vocation, God does not always call us to the places where we think we should be called, which was the outcome of my day of interviews in Alexandria. However, I was not to be discouraged, by any means. Schools were still a possibility for me as I continued to search for that clarity of direction that would eventually lead me to where I have been serving for nearly twelve years, and for over 60% of my time in ordained ministry. 

Along the way I first found myself offering to lead chapel services at St. Timothy’s, a school of the Diocese of Maryland, while they were without a chaplain for a large portion of an academic year. I realized then how much I enjoyed the academic chapel setting, the importance that time together brings to the community, and how much my call to ministry in a school was only growing stronger. 

During the summer of 2007, while serving the coastal community of a summer chapel in Maine, I received an email from the then Assistant Headmaster of St. Paul's School in Brooklandville, Maryland. St. Paul’s was already on my radar as a place to which I thought I may be called to serve. The school has existed since 1849 when it was founded at Old St. Paul’s Church. The congregation affectionately known as Baltimore’s Mother Parish established the school in order to provide an education for orphaned and indigent boys in Baltimore who, otherwise, may have ended up living on the streets. Although the mission and focus of the school changed over the years, relocating to different campuses and experiencing tremendous growth in various ways, the values of service to others, espoused in 1849, remain to this day. I realized that I was possibly being called to live out my ministry in a school that had a faith component as well as a strong vision of outreach to the community. 

The opportunity that arose during that summer was for the position of school Chaplain. I would oversee the chapel program, work with the Associate Chaplain, lead services for the lower and middle schools, and teach religion in the middle school. Since I was to finish the final two weeks of the month of July in Maine, I flew to Baltimore for a day of meetings and interviews with faculty and staff at St. Paul’s. Although it was the summer, and school obviously not in session, I still felt a sense of excitement and joy in the people I met. I was able to tell that the enthusiastic energy that I briefly experienced that day would be even more palpable in the community between September and June. 

After returning to Maine, I was offered the position within one or two days. Both excitement and anxiety were felt regarding the coming changes to my life and ministry that would take me out of the parish church and into the school chapel and classroom.  

And so, I began my time at SP that August. While my enthusiasm for all things ‘St. Paul’s’ never waned, I would not be truthful if I did not mention that the first year was bit difficult. As I was trying to navigate through the course of school expectations, Episcopal identity, teaching middle school boys, and figuring out what worked and not worked when leading chapel worship, I began to second guess myself. I wondered if my call from God to school ministry was a ‘wrong number.’ Did I make a mistake when I left the comfortable confines of a church community? 

It was not until the spring of that year that I would perceive the beauty of chaplaincy coming to fruition in my life. I saw how students responded to me, and I to them, both in the classroom and chapel, as well as around the campus grounds. Connections had been made. I then understood my role and myself as a real member of the St. Paul’s community. I was not someone who was simply looking in from the periphery and trying to figure out where I fit in with this very different animal called an Episcopal school. My very first pastoral call was to a grieving 5 th grade boy whose aging Labrador retriever was being euthanized that day due to an unrecoverable illness. He was losing his best friend and I found a new friend and a new home. When I see his parents on rare occasions, they will often mention that time when their son needed someone to talk to, and to be reminded that God would not forget his beloved pet. 

The connections that form relationships with students, faculty, staff, parents, and alumni are what I see as central to my role as the Chaplain at St. Paul's School. Many of the students at St. Paul’s have been on the campus since they were toddlers. Quite a few were baptized on the same spot in the chapel where their mom and dad exchanged marriage vows, and on the same piece of land where they spent their childhood and youth. 

So, for many, the school community of St. Paul’s is also their faith community. Not only is the chapel used for the different special occasions in their lives, but also for times of honor or bereavement. The chapel at St. Paul’s is the place from which many have wanted to be buried. With their names on their class plaque, along the wall overlooking the oxford style seating, these St. Paul’s gentlemen desire a proper send off from the place they have always called home; from the place that educated them, instilled faith in them, and raised them up as part of a great community. 

The everyday routines and rhythm of the school year are things to which I have grown accustomed. At the same time, I know that the larger picture is about something bigger than the everyday. I know that my role as a priest is uniquely lived out on a campus that would not be there were it not for the vision of a congregation of Episcopalians in Baltimore. I know that my call to serve God in this ministry is by building up a community of people from various backgrounds and traditions. If these diverse groups see and know God in the strength of the bonds of relationships that are developed and celebrated in the midst of an inclusive gathering in the St. Paul’s Chapel, perched high atop a hill, I can honestly say I answered God’s call and the number was correct. And I can honestly say that this is why I am proud to teach in an Episcopal school.

"Spread The Word" News From Our Schools
Christchurch School's Judicial Committee
Examined Its One Strike Policy

Written by The Reverend Scott Parnell, Chaplain

Christchurch School is a little community on a hill. Located in Tidewater Virginia on the Rappahannock River, we’re our own ZIP Code. We live together, eat together, learn together – and make mistakes together. 
Until 2016, Christchurch School had a “one strike” policy for serious discipline issues. Alcohol, drugs, and fighting would land you a seat in the Dean’s office and a ticket home that afternoon. The Judicial Council (a committee comprised of students and faculty) would hear the case and then execute the proscribed consequence. However, we found that retributive consequences were antithetical to our mission as an Episcopal school. What we prayed and what we did were inconsistent. With the Head of School, Jeb Byers’ blessing, our Dean of Students, Michael Heath called together a committee to explore an alternative path forward. 
At community Eucharist, we ask God to “deliver us from the presumption of coming to the Table for solace only and not for strength; for pardon only, and not for renewal.” It was this desire for renewal and restoration that pushed an idea forward. The understanding of our Episcopal identity did not allow us to blindly remove students from our community; instead, we became committed to a path of redemption. 
Whenever a community member violates one of our fundamental standards, our desire, if at all possible, is to find a way to refold the individual back into the flock. There would still be consequences; however, it was important for us that we balance the wellbeing of the wider community with the needs of the individual. The work began with the Judicial Council itself. Their task was no longer to hear the evidence and deliver a verdict – by the time a student appears before the Judicial Council, it is known what happened. They do not “investigate” anything. Instead, the Council’s responsibility is to understand  why . For example, if a student was found with alcohol, it would be the Judicial Council’s task to discern between a foolish choice, a self-medicating technique, or destructive addiction (just to mention a few possibilities). Rather than executing judgment, the Council seeks to understand and then make a recommendation to the Head of School about an appropriate course of action. 
This process embodies St. Francis’ prayer of desiring to understand, rather than to be understood. It’s messy. It appears inconsistent to the casual bystander (and often the student body). But it is compassionate. It teaches each student, that even in their worst moments, they are still a beloved child of God. 
Let us hear from you!
Katherine F. Murphy 
MAESA Executive Director