We Must Do What We Think We Cannot

—Eleanor Roosevelt

In 2011, a group of history students were impatient and frustrated. They were in a class they had requested, with a teacher they respected, studying poverty. The work was intense, it required the students to dig deeper, it pushed some way out of their comfort zones. They asked for a meeting with the teacher, he heard them out; he was speechless.

The students didn't ask him to lighten up on the homework, or trim down the essay questions, they asked for his help. They were beginning to appreciate the depth of social, economic and cultural inequalities that lay behind the causes and consequences of poverty, and they knew enough to know how much more there was to learn. But they were ready. Their inquiry had ignited compassion; they wanted to use their considerable gifts of intelligence, initiative and energy, to right one small inequality, in one small community. They had a plan.

Months later these students boarded a flight to the Dominican Republic and spent 7 days helping to build an orphanage. The organization, planning and funding of the trip was far more taxing than they had anticipated, but they saw it through. Their trip was not designed by adults to look good on a college application. For many it was the beginning of a deeply personal journey, the product of engaged, creative students, and a community of support.

From international trips to internships with a local medical practice, to classes at Guilford College, students at New Garden Friends School are given the honor and responsibility of being known and challenged. This isn't always easy or comfortable for them or for their teachers.  It requires commitment and respect on all sides.  But we are a Friends school, it is what we do.