In our living and learning community, we believe in the statement “Brewster will be better because of me and I will be better because of Brewster.” It’s a simple but inspirational principle that serves as the foundation of Brewster’s four Community Core Values: respect, responsibility, independence, and interdependence. In new, bold posters across campus, students, faculty, and staff are reminded of these values and our commitment to living up to them in our daily work and learning. They also help us remember the values so we may better recognize them as they are exemplified by others, helping build a stronger and supportive community. But beyond their short years at Brewster, students will find that each of the core values serve as guideposts as they find their lives of purpose, and will benefit them in their college years and for a lifetime.
In selecting “unity” as the word of the 2023-24 school year, Head of School Kristy Kerin noted that not only are we a school community united in our mission on two continents, we are also united in these core community values. Students in Wolfeboro and Madrid are learning about and living the four core values. Ms. Kerin also revealed her penchant for independence and interdependence. “I love the interplay between these two core values,” she said. “Brewster is an incredibly student-centered school and we focus on helping each student unlock their unique skills and potential. But we do so within a close-knit boarding community, focusing on both self and community growth.”
“After implementing our Community Core Values last year, Brewster worked to make them part of the everyday experience for our community,” explains Academic Dean Matt Butcher. “One step was to update our long-standing student recognition program to focus directly on the Community Core Values and related behaviors. At Brewster, we believe all students can demonstrate our values consistently, and we look forward to recognizing those who do and supporting those who might need some help.”
Let’s take a look at each of these important values and their meanings, and how they can be implemented in our classrooms and dorms.
RESPECT. We strive to treat ourselves and others with unconditional positive regard, aiming to create an inclusive community of belonging in which all feel welcome, known, and valued. We believe in the limitless potential for positive growth in all people, and see mistakes as opportunities for learning.
How does this play out each day? Being a good listener and recognizing others’ perspectives in class discussions, especially when they don’t mesh with our own, is a great example of this Brewster value. And with the variety of life experiences we have in our community, the opportunity to learn from others and valuing their contributions is ever present. Respect also pertains to how we handle conflicts—using empathy as we seek to repair and restore relationships.
RESPONSIBILITY. We aspire to always do the hard, right thing. We act with integrity, in ways that earn and maintain trust, recognizing this as a foundation for the positive relationships that build a healthy community.
Being responsible is a fairly large umbrella for a lot of actions and decisions we make. It can be as simple as returning our plates and glasses to the dishwasher in Esta, and making sure we wipe up after ourselves. It also means being actively engaged in our activities—and avoiding distractions from technology when we are together with our peers. Of course, it also means academic honesty, and being prepared for class. For the adults in our community, it means modeling responsible behaviors and helping students see that acting with integrity is a lifelong practice that reaps important rewards.
INDEPENDENCE. We have the courage to bring our full selves to a community that believes great minds do not think alike. We stubbornly pursue growth as individuals, taking ownership and accountability for our actions, goals, and success.
This value involves courage and speaks to the heart of who Brewster’s students are. Committed to the idea that not all great minds think alike, we not only recognize but celebrate diversity in all its forms. And in doing so, we value people who pursue their individual paths, putting forth their best effort with persistence, self-reliance, and problem-solving. This extends to creating an environment where every student is able to muster the courage to self advocate, share their ideas, and take healthy chances. While the value of independence gives students their wings, our next community core value makes sure they have a support system on the ground.
INTERDEPENDENCE. We find joy through shared experiences and accomplishments. We seek to put our own interests and talents to use, not just for ourselves, but for the betterment of others. Our work is grounded in the idea that each individual shares responsibility for the success of others.
It is often said that at Brewster, students can do their best without having to best each other. This core value correlates with that long-held view. A defining characteristic of Brewster’s community is how we support each other with a web of practices that include being a good teammate during partner, group, and class activities—and being able to ask for help and feedback rather than trying to “go it alone” when we struggle. (Just look at our math and writing tutoring centers, and the built-in support of the team model used in every grade!) Interdependence also means being adaptable, a lesson we all learned during the height of COVID, with its lockdowns and remote learning. A burden then, it is a strength now. Offering help and advice in kind and constructive ways—a true measure of interdependence—is a skill we all use throughout our lives.
SPECIAL NOTE: Director of Communications Suzanne Morrissey is looking for examples of the Community Core Values in action for a feature in the next issue of Brewster magazine. Please contact her with any examples—large or small—that you’ve observed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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