Because I had to stay at home almost all week to avoid spreading a virus that I ended up not catching, the timing struck me as felicitous to talk to you today about a project we are putting in place next year that is very close to my heart. It’s got nothing to do with COVID but plenty to do with homes or more specifically houses. We are introducing a house system, which, let me reassure you, does not mean that I’ll be working from home from now on or that the children will be following classes from home either!

Those of you who’ve read Harry Potter already know what a house system entails. It involves allocating a house to each child, regardless of their class or grade level. The child represents the house during projects, competitions, contests, and plenty of other events that will allow them to earn points for their house. Children will belong to the same house the entire time they are at The École. A house system gives a boost to school life; it promotes values and encourages the development of positive character traits such as leadership skills and empathy. The house system will enable us to foster a reinforced sense of community and of belonging that goes beyond grade levels and classes, as well as a sense of sportsmanship—one of the pillars of character Coach Soden has been drilling into our Elementary and Middle School kids for the past few months—cooperation, and responsibility. More than that, a house system also builds on concrete pedagogical objectives such as how to work as part of a team, how to think creatively, how to speak in public, and it will empower our older students to take on their first roles of responsibility (for example, each house will have a captain elected by the members of their house).

The four colors of the school polos—blue, yellow, red, and white—are an ideal way for us to ensure each house has its own visual identity. There will be dedicated house days on the school calendar next year when children will be asked to wear their house polo (the rest of the time they can wear any color they wish!). There will be new, special activities and projects associated with the house system, but the houses will also be incorporated into the projects that are currently in place. For example, we will continue to run a variety of charity projects during the year with the added motivation of a student’s house benefitting from their generosity.

We are not quite ready to start yet—a lot of preparation is needed and I would like to thank our 3rd Grade English teacher Dara Herschenfeld for stepping up to the plate and accepting to lead the project. She has thousands of ideas about how to make the house system an exciting and engaging learning opportunity for our kids (and for the adults too!). We are going to have a “soft introduction” during the Elementary & Middle School Field Day that is taking place on Friday, May 13. Elementary & Middle School families will have spotted a questionnaire in the last few Memos asking which color polos each child already has. If you haven’t replied yet, please take a minute to do so. We will be returning to the subject of houses plenty of times and sharing more precise information about how it will work but for now, let’s get this logistical (but important) detail out of the way (we don’t want families to have to buy different color polos than the ones they already have!)

For now, I am happy to be back at school and to wish all of our families who celebrate Eid-all-Fitr a wonderful end to Ramadan, and everyone an excellent long weekend (because there’s no school on Monday).