After 20 years at Tabor, I applied for and received a two-trimester-long sabbatical to take place during the winter and spring semesters of this school year.
Over the winter long weekend, six students and two faculty chaperones took a sojourn to Quebec. Here is an account of their adventures along with some photos to enjoy.
I applied for the Idemitsu Scholarship on a whim, never dreaming I’d actually get it. Even after the “Congratulations!” email from Mr. Downes and a celebratory phone call with my dad, I didn’t really believe it was happening. It didn’t hit me at any point during the months of online prep, or when I was packing and printing my itinerary, or during the 20-something hours of flying. Reality only sank in after I saw the first Japanese ad in the airport and realized I had no idea what I was looking at. All of the excitement and nerves that I should have been able to process and come to terms with over the previous six months overwhelmed me instantly, and I was torn between the emotions of “Oh my gosh, I’m in Japan!” and “Dear Lord, I’m in Japan. By myself. For a month.”
The following is an excerpted version of Head of School John Quirk's Opening Chapel Talk:
My dad was a great guy – a funny and bright man of inspiring idealism. This trait expressed itself in many ways, but one of the best was his devotion to the Constitution as a living document. Many peoples’ passions are blind, but not his. He knew the document well, recognized and spoke with knowledge about the tensions and “unfinished business” of it, and was an expert in the ideas of the people who were its architects. In this, he was perfectly matched to the times he lived in.
He was a postwar baby born in 1945, with national pride beaming and nuclear fear coldly simmering. He was a high school student during the tumultuous early sixties – the death of John F. Kennedy, the rise of Rock and Roll and the drug culture. He was in college in the mid-sixties when I was born, as two of his heroes – Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. -- were slain, the cold war was heating up in Southeast Asia, and race riots and violent protests were peppering the news.
Proctors arrived to campus a few days early on September 1st for the proctor orientation that would take place over the course of the week. We met with Mr. Millette twice a day for our training, which consisted of various leadership training activities and lectures.
There is nothing more rewarding for language students than connecting with peers across linguistic and national borders. This year, Tabor’s French 4 students had the opportunity to experience this by partnering with a class at the Institut d’éducation motrice in Couzeix, a small town in central France. We first met their instructor Madame Stenger via an online forum. At the time we both had thirteen students eager to participate. Our primary goal was to communicate with francophone students in French. Most groups mostly want to practice English, which makes finding a good match challenging. Madame Stenger’s interest was cultural. She wanted her students to learn about America in their own language. It was a great fit.
Our students will inherit a very different world than the one we know today, a point well illustrated in this viral video “Shift Happens.” They will need to be able to navigate as adults in the 21st century. This broader sweep is punctuated with some jarring predictions and extrapolations: For instance, the learners in our schools right now will have anywhere from 10-14 job changes by the time they are 38. The complex issues before us today require a key set of problem-solving skills. How does Tabor Academy ensure our young men and women develop the curiosity and resilience to pursue and practice the skills of critical thinking, collaboration, communication, metacognition, empathy and citizenship for transfer to novel scenarios, as well as have the applicable content knowledge they need for the world they will engage?
The "R word" campaign to me is all about bringing awareness to our community here at Tabor. I hear the "R word" very often and never thought much of it. Now that I have been working with young athletes with intellectual impairments once a week, I see how capable they really are. The children improve on their skills every week, whether its shooting hoops or kicking a soccer ball they put their best effort into everything they do. Using the "R word" with a negative demeanor is hurtful. After seeing many "R word" campaigns online I thought it would be effective to make one here at Tabor. It truly was, hearing some of the personal stories was amazing and really helped to make the video more personal. I have already seen a huge impact in our Tabor community.
During my sophomore year I developed a passion for French that prompted me to apply for Tabor's Shattuck Grant. The Shattuck Grant is given annually to a student who displays excellence in a language and who would like to study abroad and pursue further immersion through a summer program. I was fortunate to use the grant money I received to assist with my trip over the summer to Paris for a 9-week immersion program through an organization called Education First.
Each spring, students have the opportunity to apply for a travel grant from Tabor Academy to support their interest in language or cultural study. The grant is made possible through the generosity of The Shattuck Family, who created this opportunity ten years ago based on their gratitude for their son’s experiences and awakening to the wider world through his study of foreign languages at Tabor.