If you have been to the Buxton Library, you have undoubtedly noticed our ebullient Director of Library and Media Services, better known to us as Ms. Santamauro. I say undoubtedly because Ms. Santamauro is one of those who makes her presence known, who inhabits her space with equal parts enthusiasm and earnestness.
Though I could dedicate an entire post to her good work or that of any of our fine teachers, I’d like to focus on a community project that Ms. Santamauro, with the help of our beekeeper extraordinaire Mr. Leveque, led this September. One day at all-school meeting, they invited students to join them during lunch to collect Monarch caterpillars from Hutker Yard, which were then placed in a (comfortable and airy!) terrarium in the Library that others could view.
Each time I visited the Library, I would check up on our new friends and watch as they affixed themselves to the overhead screen of their new home, wrapped themselves in their trademark cocoons, and directed themselves to the hard work that is metamorphosis. After that initial flurry of activity, nothing seemed to happen for days. Then, suddenly, as I scrolled through my Twitter feed at the end of a long day, I came across an @Falmouth Academy tweet displaying a short stop-action video of our students releasing our one-time caterpillars back to Hutker Yard. The caption said it all: “The Monarchs have arrived!”
I shared that post on my own feed, adding a caption of my own: “Change is quite literally in the air!” which prompted me to reflect more broadly on Falmouth Academy.
The hard work of learning and growing goes on day by day, class by class, moment by moment. The change that occurs here, that is actualized within each student, is often hard to notice and is sometimes imperceptible. As teachers and parents, as professionals, we are used to making plans and building strategies that yield observable even measurable results. And so we can get a little impatient, communicating to our kids in subtle and not subtle ways messages akin to, “C’mon, change already!” when what we want to say is, “I want you to be the best you can be.” And, sometimes, what our kids hear is, “being a caterpillar isn’t enough.”
Falmouth Academy’s curriculum is thoughtfully laid out. It values the community-building impact of a core curriculum and a common experience and has been designed to meet the developmental needs of our students, even as external pressures that suggest schools (and students) do more and do it sooner and faster. Teaching and learning is a process and a long one at that (perhaps even a lifetime long!) There are times when our students change gradually, times when, alas, they don’t seem to be changing at all, and times when they change all at once, as our monarchs did. With patience and care, we are confident that we will discover the monarch in all of our students. After all, we are ultimately in the metamorphosis business. And we can’t wait to see our students fly (when they’re ready!).