This past Friday, we celebrated the graduation of the 23 members of our Class of 2021. I was so fortunate to have the opportunity this year to work with these students as their U.S. History Teacher. I learned so much every day from these very capable students about grace, resilience, and character. The compassion, cooperation, commitment, and respect toward all which they brought to school every day were great gifts to Powhatan and helped us navigate the pandemic as constructively as possible.
In addition to having the good fortune of teaching our 8th graders, I had the opportunity across the year to see Powhatan’s excellent faculty and staff in action. These colleagues are inspiring to me and balance beautifully the need for both structure and creativity. A favorite teacher and writer of mine – Parker Palmer – says that our students need clear expectations and structure but that truly meaningful learning also requires “live encounters with the unexpected, an element of surprise, an evocation of that which we did not know would happen until it did happen. If these elements are not present, we may be training or indoctrinating students, but we are not educating them” (Palmer, The Active Life: A Spirituality of Work, Creativity, and Caring, p. 74-75). Our teachers understand this essential dynamic and this history teacher was certainly presented by his students with some wonderful surprises this year! 8th graders, I shall always be grateful for you and for those surprises!
Attached are excerpts from remarks made at the start of Friday’s commencement program. (Graduation Remarks) Be on the lookout in the coming weeks for our 20/21 Annual Report, which will contain the comments made about each graduate as he or she was presented the Powhatan diploma by Board Chair, Langdon Greenhalgh.
As I prepare to wrap up my interim year at Powhatan, know that I feel so fortunate and honored to have shared this year with you. And, I shall always be grateful for the support and encouragement which folks across the Powhatan family have so warmly and graciously extended to me, our faculty and staff, and our students. I am counting on you to extend that same depth of support to Jay Briar and to our wonderful school in the coming years, which are so full of opportunity and promise for this community.
With deep appreciation for this school and for all who work mightily to make it so special, Billy Peebles