Principal's Message

There is a tin man in the courtyard of JFK

Facsimile of a teacher who

Perhaps in his day did play court jester

To 20th century pedagogy.

He favored creativity in teaching science and GT.

He challenged student curiosity.

Within his classroom

Amid the infusion of banter, nicknames, and fun,

Kids like Nicky Noodles and the Terpatator

To name just two

Found that their thinking flourished with this man

Minds grew.

This tin man statue has a heart

A rather large one on display

Symbolic of the passion

That would on days

Avert a paced, programmed curriculum

And allow for curiosity and creativity.

This rogue passion,

This tin and one other statue

Are central this morning

In what I’m saying to you

But before I turn my comments to that other one

A brief detour in my train of thought---

So caution.

A most simple addition problem was asked me

The other day

Requested and required

To be done only in my head.

I thought college degrees, lifelong study

Easy, I’ll do okay.

I go way back to second grade, Mrs. Hayes

Times tables memorized

During math collectively said

And so in this way, multiplied products

Were etched into our heads.

By rote, by heart

Multiplicand by multiplier

Products computed multiplicatively.

This problem was simple addition.

How hard could that be?

Well,

To convey this math minute of mine with accuracy

Let me try it with you.

Are you ready?

Start with the number 1000

Add 40

Add another 1000

Add 30

Add another 1000

Add 20

Add another 1000

And add 10.

Have you 5000 calculated in your head?

As I had.

Or by chance is it 4100 instead?

I’ve quizzed others before you

And I’m still pondering why

Among so many

5000 was a common reply

When 4100

Is the sum so easily done.

It’s part this fascination

Curiosity how the mind functions

That drew me into education

As it did that tin man.

Curiosity and creativity

Two very powerful C’s

That have core value in schools of the 21st century.

Now, turning to that second statue

Encountered in Hawaii

Where in the lobby of the Fairmont Kea Lani

I beheld the beauty of Mermaid Dream, the sculpted creation

By a former student from Southington.

This artist with chainsaw and chisel

Carved a vision he did conceive

Within a ton trunk of driftwood

In detail so defined one could believe,

Life springs from fiction

Fantasy could actually be.

His work is commissioned

By famed actors, international businessmen, and kings

There’s a Vatican sculpture received by the Pope

Entitled “Resurrection.”

The emergence of this artist

Begets a question of Southington:

How did we prepare students back then

For an industrialized world of production lines

Where a wealth of content knowledge

Stored in mind was treasured

And in that manner, a graduate was measured.

Let me take you back decades from 2018

To one school building

To that one student

And the way it likely had been.

Dale sat in his designated desk

In his designated row

In DePaolo of 1973

Walled in brick,

Learning contained therein

In discrete curriculums

Limited by bells

Constrained by educational regimen.

In English class, he diagrammed

Someone else’s sentences

Language study conducted

By placing words correctly onto connected lines

For lessons relegated creativity

To the study of select authors through black and white print

In this manner

Appreciation for creativity was meant

Allowance for one’s own was just not the intent.

Creativity in other academics?

Perhaps found here or there in pockets

Or provided by a teaching maverick.

Industrial arts?

No, he like any other boy,

Produced the annual garden hose holder

Curriculum’s contribution to Father’s Day joy.

Perhaps it was only in art alone

This student’s mind could take flight

Into the creative zone.

Now maybe you, I, students of the 20th century

Where the A, B, C’s of teaching

Were so solid in concrete content

Delivered by a sage on the stage

Delivery depicted

By textbooks, chalk and talk.

Graduates prepared to take place in a world

Which suddenly became global

Where learning

Through burgeoning technology became mobile.

Let’s fast forward to the core C’s

So needed in the 21st century.

Content, of course,

But delivered through lessons

That coerce collaboration, communication

Critical thinking, but above all creative thought.

Teachers who value these core elements.

Students learning in pairs through peers

Instruction led by the guide on the side.

Today the outcome of a Southington education

Cannot be a singular Dale

The result of happenstance

But rather a diverse community

Done by design not by chance

Dales of all kinds prepared to be

Productive global citizens of this century.

Release that grip on what we’ve always done

Just because it’s always been

And fire up a passion like the tin man.

Embrace these C’s in our instruction.

Invoke creativity in every possible lesson.

Let your mind sculpt our children

As you see with eyes

Like that homegrown artist

Who could conceive

A vision of life in a dead tree.