Dear Members of the SAES Community,
Earlier this month I had the pleasure of sharing a drive from San Antonio to Del Rio with Rob Devlin. Rob was team leader for St. James’ accreditation visit, and during our two-plus hour drive we spoke about many topics. What was obvious is how much we both enjoy campus visits to association schools. They are not only the best kind of professional development, but visits are also likely to open our eyes to new and creative ways to bring a school’s mission into action. We almost always learn new best practices and enjoy our collaborative conversations with school leaders. St. James’ was no exception.
As on all accreditation visits, we relied on Jeanie Stark’s leadership. Thanks to Jeanie, we once again were treated to a cohesive team and a well-prepared schedule. As most of you know, Jeanie has discerned that this will be her last year at SAES as she has earned the right to spend more time with family and faith. We will sorely miss her, but also love thinking of Jeanie and Bill getting more time to spend with their “grands.” So, the search has begun to find our future Director of Accreditation, and you will see the job posting for this position below and hope that you will consider who might be our next Director of Accreditation. Please also joining me in thanking Jeanie for all she is doing for SAES this 2021-2022 school year.
Back to the drive from San Antonio—some of you have heard Rob ask one of his favorite questions, “What are you reading that has provided meaning for you recently?” I asked Rob if he had read Bishop Michael Curry’s “Love Is the Way.” Of course, Rob has, and we talked about what in the text had relevance to us as school leaders. My answer can be found in something Bishop Curry said to a newspaper reporter a few years ago when he was bishop of North Carolina, “I think the greater challenge is this: ‘How do we make e pluribus unum—out of many, one—real, without obliterating anybody.’” I told Rob, that when I talk with heads in our association what I find as wise is the way heads are looking to unify their communities, rather than dividing them. I see heads who know that sometimes you must slow down to speed up. Bishop Curry’s story isn’t about being right, it is about seeing good in each person. One of my other favorite quotes from the text is about doing more than standing one’s ground. Curry puts it this way, “I needed to do something very difficult: to stand and kneel at the same time. I needed to stand in my conviction, laying out what I believed and why. And when the response was anger, I needed to learn to kneel before it…. You have to create space for the other person.”
I have said many times this year that I am glad that we are in Episcopal schools, and that our Episcopal identity is helping us to love our neighbor—even when we disagree. That is Curry’s message in “Love Is the Way.”
Interim Executive Director