Mr. Schoeffel has made many contributions to our community this year, both large and small. He has introduced new traditions, and he has adjusted to many of our old ones. A new, seemingly small scale adjustment is the reformatting of the Weekly Update. An Upper School tradition, the Weekly Update is sent out merely to alert students and faculty of events and meetings for the coming week. This year, however, Mr. Schoeffel has added a twist. Rather than just sending out a schedule, he starts off each Weekly Update with words of wisdom, the past week's highlights and/or a quote of the week. While the Updates have increased in length, they have included some enlightening words that make the read worth it. Faculty member Geoff Nelson elaborates upon the addition, "It's great, a nice change — a dose of intellectualism and reflection amidst the banality and noise of daily school life. I appreciate that Mark has taken time to get to know our students, faculty and community at large. That he uses this knowledge with power and insight to thoughtful ends in something as potentially forgettable as the Weekly Update says volumes about his rich internal life and his obvious external empathy. He writes with a simple elegance." As the principal of the Upper School, Mr. Schoeffel represents our community-at-large. This easily overlooked contribution is quite symbolic of his immersion and care for the school. Here are some key moments that gave all of us the "feels" and illutsrate why his presence is so invaluable:
When Mr. Schoeffel commented on community events with understanding and appreciation…
After Fall Fair:
"The support, spirit and grit, as well as the sportsmanship, all made me smile. "
After the Honors Concert:
"The songs, the music, the passion and talent, and the joy were inspiring, and uplifting."
"Thank you to the cast and crew and its directors for giving the school this treat of the eyes, ears and soul, which others got to feast on over the course of the last days."
… students and faculty alike knew how much he cared and valued their extracurricular work.
When he highlighted the things that make our community so special…
After Friday Night Lights:
"I’ll take liberties with Kipling and say that if you can meet triumph and loss and treat those imposters just the same, then yours is the earth and everything in it."
After a MFW:
"…[I]n Meeting for Worship, there were new voices reaching out, honestly and bravely, speaking about such topics of importance to them. Our collective humanity improves with these gifts. We get better. It is a sacred trust. Thank you."
… he showed how he understood the school's mission on an intellectual level.
When he gave us with just the advice we needed…
"Pace yourself, and take your time. Someone said today, “You can’t really get anything meaningful done in five minutes.” Right you are, if you are rushing, except there is a way to make five minutes meaningful: you can take that five minutes and breathe, listen, reflect, stand back, and breathe again. Then, five minutes is eternity!"
"Perhaps our going forward each day with a shared belief in the good in people is the best we can do to affirm that important faith in our fellow human beings, as we work to believe in love, not hatred."
… we knew that we had not only gained a new principal, but also a mentor and a friend.
When he shed light on this past thanksgiving break and current events…
"The times seem to be testing people’s living allegiance to core democratic and humane values, and temperance, equanimity, and empathy all seem harder to grow under duress. I hope we will reach down, and during the break, as we gather ourselves and rest, we can reflect upon how fortunate we are to be here, to be able to learn about and from each other, and to discover what is possible in ourselves and our lives in the world. It is a great privilege. And with that bounty, there are obligations of gratitude lived, in each act and moment where our patience or even our deepest beliefs are tested or threatened. Like Odysseus and Penelope, we need to hold on tight, and not let go of our cherished peace and devotion to what is true. It is a great holiday because is not just about a family gathering, I think, but also about the human family reminding itself of what matters most."
… his words touched us and opened our mind to reflect on our world and humanity.
The only questions left to ask are,
"Mr. Schoeffel, when is your book being released?" and "Where can I buy it?".