This week I had the privilege of meeting with every member of The Davis Academy faculty to discuss the topic of our menschlichkeit values. Specifically I was curious to hear how these values, recently adopted, are impacting the content and character of The Davis Academy experience for students, families, and faculty. What I learned is that core values, what we at Davis call menschlichkeit values, have tremendous power when they truly reflect the aspirations of an organization, school, or community. I also learned that good core values are, at their core, evocative, generous, and robust.
Core values evoke our creativity and passion. They push us from habit to mindfulness. They summon us to consider the “stuff” of life and learning from multiple perspectives. They humble us by reminding us that we always teach on multiple levels.
Core values generously lend themselves to lesson plans, classroom contracts, and all aspects of school life. They are the opposite of a zero sum proposal. The more we engage our core values, the more they have to offer. As our understanding grows we expand our capacity to engage with our core values intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. As this understanding translates into living our values we find within ourselves an ever expanding capacity for menschlichkeit, for living meaningful and purposeful lives.
Core values are robust. Though it’s tempting to do so, they cannot and should not be reduced to sound bites. While they need to be developmentally focused for different children at different ages, they can and must remain dynamic and evolving concepts that resist ossification. Wisdom, respect, spirit, community, righteousness– when we dig deeply (and we are) we find that these aren’t simple concepts.
A school without core values is like a ship floating aimlessly at sea.
A school with core values has the potential to be a beacon of light, causing all to lift their eyes and hearts, to aspire toward common enlightenment.
I say that a school with core values has the potential because it is not the values themselves that transform schools, but the people that live the values.
I have never been more proud to work at The Davis Academy than I am this week because I have clear evidence to support something I’ve always known– at The Davis Academy our faculty and students live and breath our menschlichkeit values. Together we are shining a light and building a brighter kehilah.