Head of School - Welcome
Convocation Address - August 28, 2012
My name is Stephen Brotschul and I am West Nottingham Academy’s Head of School. I recognize that you do not yet know me, because like so many of you, I am new to the school. My challenge to you – which is the same challenge I have accepted – is for you to get to know each and every one of us in the school. I’ll give you a head start at knowing something about me.
I am the son of a high school principal, one of four siblings. I grew up in southeastern Pennsylvania and the beaches in New Jersey. In my adult life, I have worked for four other schools in Pennsylvania, Michigan and California and have recently moved into my 7th residence. Each house is unique, but I find stability in bringing with me several benchmarks or baselines in order to make each new environment feel like home. For instance, I have had the same bedroom paint color in five of the six residences as a married adult. I like to draw, I like photography, I like to paint. I want to be able to surf, to spend more time reading, and less time cleaning. I’m a football fan – enjoying the pigskin and futbol – and was happy to see Chelsea win this year and will die waiting for the Eagles to win. I’m married, have two wonderful sons, Severin (age 11) and Dorian (age 9) and a dog, Wrigley – you’ll see all of them on campus as a part of our school.
I am joined by several others as new faculty to our school, and I want to pause and recognize each, as tomorrow they will be in your classrooms and around the campus, working to challenge each of you to be better.
- Will Mrs. Amy Brotschul please stand. Yes, she’s my wife, and she is also first alphabetically. Mrs. Brotschul will teach French.
- Will Mr. David Burnham please stand. Mr. Burnham will teach Math. Mr. Burnham also has boarding school in his blood, including teaching at the Island School in the Bahamas.
- Will Mrs. Jaime Jezovnik please stand. Mrs. Jezovnik is a well-known face on our campus and is the Director of the Chesapeake Learning Center.
- Will Mr. Dan Kraines please stand. After completing a tour of “Who’s Who of Impressive Colleges, Universities and Graduate Programs,” Mr. Kraines will teach English.
- Will Mrs. Kari Moore please stand. Mrs. Moore and her family join West Nottingham as the learning specialist and Assistant Director of the Chesapeake Learning Center.
- Will Mrs. Nancy Nolan please stand. Mrs. Nolan brings her experience in boarding schools and her passion for all things lacrosse to serve as our Director of Admission.
- Will Mr. Tom Oxholm please stand. Mr. Oxholm, a lifelong Red Sox fan, and his family come from Vermont and will lead our development office.
- Will Mr. Bruce Sanborn please stand. Mr. Sanborn is West Nottingham’s Academic Dean, and has enjoyed his time pronouncing all of the student names.
Welcome new faculty, welcome new students.
I have been blessed with opportunities to experience … life. West Nottingham is another chance for me to be somewhere new, to meet new people, to try new things. For me, each chance I take to walk a different path, or visit a new room or talk with a different member of the community allows for me the chance to see things through a different lens. I do enjoy so much the opportunity to “Live in The Moment.” To step back, to take a deep breath and … take it all in. For me, I enjoyed watching over the last week as athletes arrived, as new students arrived, and as returning students came to campus. I watched, I listened and I experienced. I think that this series of events, in this moment of time, will become a lasting memory for me.
That’s tough – having a lasting memory. Although I’m not that old -- well, maybe, I am – I have difficulty remembering all of my high school teacher’s names. And, I’m pretty sure that I don’t recall many of the individual lessons I have been taught in my life. I have, however, been able to remember themes. Mantras. Mission Statements. Big Ideas.
Here’s my theme: Make Memories.
In an event like this, with plenty of pomp and circumstance, you become familiar with the traditions. We walk – in a big line. The walk carried weight; the weight of the school, of a sense of tradition and history. Know that we have not been walking like this since the start of time – but, we’ve been doing this longer than Mr. Tatnall has been teaching at the Academy. This, the convocation for the 2012-2013 school year, is our chance to formally start making memories. One possible memory will take place before we conclude this ceremony: the placement of the Color of the Class of 2013. The flag on stage is covered with memories from classes past; each one has significance to that class, and to our school. The color can be unifying and it too carries weight and expectation.
Earlier this summer, I was with my family on the lake shore of northern Michigan, in an area of the country which personally touches my heart. I first met my wife in Leelanau County, and it is a place where we go to relax, to recharge, to reconnect and experience life. Each visit, we take walks along the beaches, hike the dunes of the Sleeping Bear National Park, take kayak or canoe trips along the tributaries to Lake Michigan. We look at the trees and the wilderness, we admire the vast natural resources, and we look for Petoskey Stones.
A Petoskey stone is both a rock and a coral fossil, created by the glaciers. These rocks look like limestone – a quite normal and plain rock – when dry. The interesting thing is hidden in front of your eyes. When the fossil becomes wet, the six sided coral fossil emerges, changing the complexity of the rock. It is a special and somewhat magical rock.
I found my first Petoskey Stone this summer. I’ve looked for years, but have never had the patience or the luck to find one. This rock carries more significance than just being my first; It also makes me think of this vacation. As I think about the rock, I am instantly carried to a special place: where my kids skim boarded down a river and into Lake Michigan; where we relaxed by lakes and streams with names like “Crystal,” “Otter” and “North Bar”; where we visited our land; where we were with friends; where even a trip for ice cream turns into an event. Those special memories are all shaped by this rock.
As we process from the Church, use the walk back to think about some of your favorite memories. Share them with your friends and keep them in that special place in your heart. New memories come often at the oddest of times. Your next one could be soon.