MAESA Matters October 2019


Greetings from MAESA! October is a busy month at MAESA with two Episcopal Schools Celebration services planned and our Early Childhood Educators Conference to close out the month. It also gives us the chance to see so many of you!

Tuesday October 8th MAESA and Beauvoir, the National Cathedral Elementary School will welcome more than 750 students and 13 MAESA schools to worship in celebration of Episcopal schools at the Washington National Cathedral. We are delighted to have as our preacher Beauvoir School's new chaplain, The Rev. Dr. Lisa Barrowclough. Anyone is welcome to attend at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday October 8th. The following week MAESA and St. Catherine's School welcome more than 75 students and 4 schools in central Virginia to our second annual Episcopal Schools Celebration service at All Saints Episcopal Church in Henrico, Va. We are pleased to have The Rev. Joseph Torrence, Lower School Chaplain at St. Christopher's School, as our preacher. Anyone is welcome to join the service at 10:00 a.m. on Oct. 16th and we welcome you!

Finally, the MAESA Early Childhood Educators Conference hosted at St. Stephen's and St. Agnes Lower School will be on Friday, Oct. 25 and registration forms are due soon on October 14th. Our conference theme is  “School, Family & Teacher Partnerships: Working Together for Success” .   This year on-line registration is an option, and a link to register or the registration form and workshop descriptions are on the conference webpage . MAESA has a strong selection of workshops and speakers planned, so please check out all of the details at this link .

In this edition of MAESA Matters we hope you enjoy hearing from Robert Schuster, upper school English teacher at Stuart Hall School , as he responds to "Why I Teach in an Episcopal school?" Robert reflects on how he, as someone without a formal faith tradition, has found a place he values teaching, Stuart Hall School in Staunton, VA. We'd love to hear from a faculty member or an upper school student at your school about why they value being at an Episcopal School. Please contact us at maesaschools@gmail.com to be included.
MAESA Annual Members Meeting and Luncheon Highlights
More than 60 MAESA school leaders joined together for our MAESA Members Meeting last week at Episcopal High School to hear Caroline Blackwell, Vice President for Equity and Justice at NAIS. Schools from Richmond, Staunton, Baltimore, Severna Park, Delaware, Pennsylvania and the greater Washington, D.C. area were represented, and it was fun!
Caroline began by asking our guest to work alone and then in groups to clarify why we do the work we do. She then grounded us in the landscape of independent schools today and suggested that it's important that our schools are working with a common language and understanding of the terms diversity, inclusion, equity and social justice; so, preforming that exercise is a valuable starting point. Caroline shared research from NAIS that reveals the reasons families choose or “hire” independent schools for their student. These reasons in the research were defined as “jobs to be done”. Next, she turned to challenging those assembled to discuss first in small groups and then individually, "what is your why?" The workshop culminated with each person drafting a personal “why statement” which goes well beyond daily work but certainly drives all they do. Images from the day reveal the reflection and sharing during the process of unpacking the "why" that informs and drives each of us. 

Why I Teach in an Episcopal School
Robert Schuster
High School English Teacher
Stuart Hall School

             I do not belong to the Episcopal church. In fact, I don’t really belong to any church—I’m not a Christian, nor have I ever been. The closest I’ve been to any religious tradition was being scolded for taking Communion at childhood friend’s church and later sitting through Unitarian Universalist services and an associated “coming-of-age” youth group when I was in high school in the early 2000s; I stopped going as soon as I graduated from the independent college prep school I attended (which was also not religiously affiliated).
            Neither I nor anyone I know would describe me as a particularly religious person.
            So why do I teach at an Episcopal school? The short answer is, “Because it was the school that hired me.” There is, thankfully, a much better long answer.
            After a year of rewarding-but-exhausting work teaching introductory composition classes at community college in Richmond, I reached out to a recruiter who specialized in independent school placement—any place in need of an English teacher within a hundred miles of my home would be suitable, or so I thought. The more we talked, though, the more I realized I wouldn’t be comfortable teaching in a place with top-down prescriptions for English curricula, where my pedagogical and content decisions would be met with suspicion instead of encouragement, with a list of reasons why something couldn’t be done instead of asking me to explain why it  could . I wouldn’t be comfortable in a place that would expect (or demand) a statement of faith, something I could not ethically give. I wouldn’t be comfortable teaching in a place that didn’t support me in my long-term relationship with my wonderful fiancé, that wouldn’t accept me as myself. How could I possibly be an effective teacher without the support of the school? Surely my students would feel even  more discomfort and even  less s upport.
            Available positions were predictably few, and for a moment I did wonder if I should have studied any other subject, but there was one: Stuart Hall needed a long-term English substitute for a teacher out on leave... one year is better than nothing, right?
            Here I am in year four, as grateful and excited to get my renewal each year as I was when I got called back after the in-person interview in 2016. 
So what is the long answer to why I continue teaching at an Episcopal school? 
Because it is that very Episcopal identity that gives it all the characteristics I value most: it is a community which embodies adaptability, diversity, and support for all its members. It is because Stuart Hall is an Episcopal school that I am entrusted with curricular and classroom decisions and that these decisions are based on constructive discussion and positive, purposeful structure; the structure develops to serve the educational purpose rather than the other way around. It is because this is an Episcopal school that we have faculty, staff, and students from all around the world, from all walks of life, with all manner of varied interests, belonging to any and every and no faith tradition all at once. Chapel here is not a time to proselytize but for each and every person to be supported and reflect. It is precisely because this is an Episcopal school that I, my colleagues, and each and every one of my students is accepted for who they are and encouraged to be everything they wish to be; it is a deep and enduring belief in  grace .
            I didn’t  intend t o teach at an Episcopal school—I just wanted to be in a classroom, discussing novels and metaphors and symbolism with students—but I’m nevertheless grateful and happy that I do.

2019-2020 MAESA Event Dates
MAESA 2019 Episcopal Schools Day Service in Washington, D.C. : Tuesday, October 8, 2019 at 10:00 a.m. at Washington National Cathedral hosted in partnership with Beauvoir, the National Cathedral Elementary School .

MAESA 2019 Episcopal Schools Day Service in Richmond, VA: Wednesday October 16, 2019 at 10:00 a.m. at All Saints Episcopal Church, Henrico, VA hosted in partnership with St. Catherine's School .

MAESA 2019 Early Childhood Educators Conference
Friday, October 25, 2019, "School, Family & Teacher Partnerships: Working Together for Success” at St. Stephen's and St. Agnes School. The conference theme allows us to hear from professionals supporting families, schools and students with a wide range of expertise. It's time to register! Check out the workshop offerings and view the registration materials on our webpage. Don't miss our keynote speaker Carol Stock Kranowitz author of the "Out of Sync Child" series. Register HERE.

MAESA 2020 Choral Evensong
Sunday, February 9, 2020  at  Washington National Cathedral  in partnership with  St. Albans School  and  National Cathedral School. This beautiful service allows our upper school student choruses to sing with the Cathedral Choir. The combined MAESA Choir numbers more than 350 voices. MAESA is pleased to welcome The Rev. Mark Andrew Jefferson, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Homiletics at Virginia Theological Seminary as our homilist at the 2020 MAESA Evensong.

MAESA Scholars Fair 
Friday, April 17, 2020  at  St. Patrick’s Episcopal Day School  in Washington, D.C. The fair includes a juried art exhibit, science fair, geography and spelling bees, multimedia presentations and a non-competitive design thinking activity for students in 4 th -8 th grade. 

MAESA 2019-2020 Membership Renewal: Still need to renew your 2019-2020 membership in MAESA? Visit our website to renew today. Thank you for your continued commitment to MAESA through your support in annual dues as well as participation in our MAESA events.
A Collect for The Episcopal Schools Celebration
God of knowledge and wisdom, we pray to you for all the schools across this country, which are part of the Episcopal Church. We remember them in their variety, in their differences, and in what they share. Give us open doors, open minds, and open hearts that we might accept, learn, and love everything and everyone whom you have given us. Help us to share our lives and what we have, and to learn from all those who are in school with us. We pray in the name of Jesus who opened his arms to all, young and old. Amen.
From John F. Smith,  Cycle of Prayer for Episcopal Schools, 2nd ed.  (New York: National Association of Episcopal Schools, 2008), 4.
Let us hear from you!
Katherine F. Murphy 
MAESA Executive Director