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Contemplating Educational Essentials

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Contemplating Educational Essentials
Head of School, Christian Sullivan

Throughout this, my first year at Bullis, I have been surprised that there has been time to contemplate what is essential to a Bullis education. My colleagues and I have, of course, been immersed in the practicalities of running a significant school in trying times and doing our utmost to keep everyone safe. Nevertheless, or perhaps because that is all we have been doing—there has been little socializing, no travel, or pretty much anything—there has been more time than usual to contemplate. In the normal course of events, it is difficult to slow down and just think. Life is usually fast and doing can take the place of thinking.

This may seem counter-intuitive; the pandemic has obviously taken enormous physical, mental, and emotional resources, but it has also provided breathing room to consider who and what Bullis is, to think about the school’s values and the fundamental principles to my practice as an educator. A combination of this time to think and simultaneously engage in the strategic planning process our community is currently undertaking has allowed three characteristics of the Bullis experience to consistently percolate to the surface. I believe that these aspects of the school are both present today and are also aspirational in that we can intentionally accentuate each of them.

At its very core, Bullis is and must be student-centered.

Every decision (board, head, leadership, faculty) must be taken with the best interests of students in mind, both those currently enrolled and those who will be.

Faculty must be honored, nurtured, and developed.

And simultaneously, care must be taken to ensure that the institution does not become adult-centered—it’s not about the board, parents, faculty or the head; it’s about the students.

At Bullis, one size does not fit all.

It is critical that we pay attention to the specific needs of each student and individualize the experience to meet those needs. By the start of school in September, we will have added 14 additional academic/pastoral positions in order to meet the needs of our students. Teacher loads will have been reduced and more experts will be available. Every student, and their needs, will be known.

And finally, I feel honored and excited to be helping to lead at a school that has the scale, the capacity, and the will to provide students with opportunities to experience a holistic education, to become well-rounded people but also, for those students who yearn for explicit expertise, to develop true, specific purpose. Bullis cannot be all things to all people, but those students who are a missionappropriate fit will find a plethora of opportunities to grow as people, as learners, as artists, as athletes, and as citizens. In the coming years, I am beyond excited to work with you all to help expand and deepen these opportunities for our young people.

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This article is featured in the Spring/Summer 2021 issue of Bullis Magazine.

  • Bullis Magazine
  • Head of School CS
  • Spring/Summer 2021