"It Begins With a Starfish" by Head of School Dr. Cathy Hall
From my first moments on campus, I was struck by the power of our mission-driven focus on “leadership for the public good.” I have been inspired by the myriad ways this mission plays out in the daily lives of our students and in the ways in which our teachers use this mission to inform our program and their work in our classrooms.
For our students, it can sometimes be complicated to sort out what that kind of leadership looks like in their own lives. It is a tall charge, to lead in a way that is good for others, and it can feel daunting to a teenager to know exactly what that looks like.
Adding to this challenge is the picture of what has been happening around our country over the last few months, with a series of natural disasters devastating communities. From the major hurricanes that impacted Houston, Florida, and Puerto Rico, to the horrific wildfires that continue to rage through California, we are surrounded lately by what feels like regular news of sadness and loss. The magnitude of the devastation is hard to understand for any of us, as we see images that are hard to imagine are real and hear statistics that are hard to fathom.
For our students, it can feel overwhelming to envision a way to make a difference amidst such devastation and loss. The scope of the need is so great, and the capacity for one person to make a difference can feel so small. Earlier this year, I shared with the students the parable of the starfish, which you likely know. It tells the story of an old man who walks along a beach covered with thousands of washed-up starfish. He comes upon a young boy who is throwing the starfish back into the ocean, one by one. When he tells the boy he can’t make a difference given how many starfish are there, the boy picks up a starfish, throws it into the ocean, and says, “I made a difference to that one.”
Our focus on leadership for the public good at Nobles is not about scale or scope, nor is it about role or accolades. It is about making a choice to make a difference.
Leadership is demonstrated in so many ways, and we strive to help our students see the varied models of what it means to lead. Leadership is the person in front of a cause, but it is also the person quietly contributing in meaningful ways. Leadership is the person who inspires others with compelling speeches, but it is also the person who inspires others through actions. I want our students to see entry points for their leadership irrespective of their personality, interests or experience. All of our students can lead and all can make a meaningful difference.
Leadership for the public good begins at home with that one starfish. As I witness every day the extraordinary ways in which our Nobles students are already making a difference for others, I am so inspired to think about what they will do in the decades to come as they head into the world to lead and serve.