Extra, Extra, Read All About It!: Wakefield’s own Head of School Mrs. Ashley Harper appeared on October 12 as a guest speaker on the National Association of Independent Schools' new podcast series, New View EDU.
This special recognition places Wakefield School’s name and identity onto the national stage, as well as giving other school communities the opportunity to benefit from Mrs. Harper’s wisdom on the recent challenges faced by schools nationwide.
Episode 10, entitled “What Have We Learned, and Where Do We Go From Here?", features Mrs. Harper along with two other heads of school, Luthern Williams of New Roads School in California and Lisa Yvette Waller of Berkeley Carroll School in New York, as well as NAIS President Donna Orem.
The episode is the closing segment in New View EDU’s first season. According to host and moderator Tim Fish, “This final episode is all about schools, from the perspective of school leaders… With these visionary [educators], we dig into the topics covered during the season and specific areas of opportunity for schools. We explore establishing well-being as the foundation of schools; creating schools that serve as incubators for the infinite potential of students; unleashing student and faculty agency; … and the importance of hope, empathy, authenticity, and vulnerability to leadership.”
According to the NAIS website, another key question the hosts explore with the panelists in this interview is “the purpose of school.” In each prior podcast episode of this season, the website states, “the purpose of school has risen to the top as an avenue for exploration. Are we at a new moment for understanding and redefining purpose in education? And how can we design for the future with all the lessons we’ve learned at the forefront? How does a big-picture understanding of purpose in a school community drive the development of student agency and personal development?”
On all of these important questions, Mrs. Harper and her fellow heads of school share insights about their school communities’ experiences over the last two years. In regard to school purpose, Mrs. Harper speaks of Wakefield’s mission and how the sudden lockdown forced a re-evaluation of what was truly critical to that mission and what was not—and adds that a number of things “that were rightly let go of” in the context of the pandemic “will not be picked back up again” as the school moves forward. She also reflects on the pandemic’s opportunities for both student and faculty agency, and “the amazing sense of entrepreneurial spirit” that existed among the faculty.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Mrs. Harper is also asked to speak about the Wakefield Courtesies, an aspect of school culture that is uniquely “Wakefield.”
In a letter to Mrs. Harper, Brianne DeRosa, the producer of New View EDU, said, “Our whole New View EDU team is excited and proud to share your wisdom with the world, and we hope you'll share, too!...On behalf of the whole New View EDU team, I truly cannot thank you enough for your thoughtful, positive, and empathetic contributions to this important panel discussion.”