From the Corner of University & Park

For 165 years, amazing students, parents, faculty, staff members, leaders, and alumni have contributed to the tradition of excellence in education through knowledge and character at Wayland Academy. It’s hard to fully capture in words or pictures, the unique qualities that make Wayland Academy so engaging, challenging, supportive, inclusive, and fun. That being said, I have the best seat in the house and I'm happy to share the view.

That's a Wrap

It was hard to imagine what this school year was going to look like as we prepared for the uncertainty of a safe, in-person experience through an unprecedented pandemic. Sitting here on campus in June, thinking back on the last twelve months, we are filled with pride, excitement, and admiration.
 
We are so proud of our students, faculty, staff, families, trustees, and friends for your determination and your commitment not just to Wayland Academy but to the sacred importance of our mission—the pursuit of knowledge and development of character. We knew that keeping our students safe and engaged in learning would be our priority and that it would be a monumental challenge. We did it.
 
A funny thing happened as we returned to more “normal” activities in the spring term. We realized “normal” comes with its own set of challenges and opportunities. Education, particularly Wayland’s hallmark brand of excellent, challenging, compassionate, character-driven education, is not easy to deliver in the best circumstances. Preparing students for college, life, and for lives of consequence might be more important now than it has ever been. We are ready to move toward our “next normal” with excitement and fervor. Wayland remains a safe, balanced community embracing a diversity of individuals, groups, and ideas. There is strength in diversity. We remain a community where all voices are heard and where the compassion, critical thinking, and civility of our students remind us that society does not have to be polarized, even when filled with multiple perspectives and opinions. We are excited for new programs, new leaders, and new developments on campus but only because we know they are built on the foundation and essence of Wayland that has always been so unique and so special.
 
We will be sharing more of the next normal in the months ahead, and you’ll see why we are indeed excited for Wayland’s future. Right now, we are left basking in admiration for our graduates and their families for all that they have accomplished and contributed during their time at Wayland. Throughout the year, we’ve been struck by the resilience of our seniors and their parents. Commencement was different this year, but it was in person, and it was profound. What follows is some of “the charge” I shared with the Class of 2021 on their special day. I hope you are reading this and finding some pride, admiration, and excitement yourself, and I wish you all a wonderful summer.
 
A portion of the head of school’s charge 2021 commencement:
 
Typically, the Head of School’s “charge” might draw on some sound, external wisdom, experience, or quote. This year, I would like for you to think about the experience you, yourselves, have just been through, the growth that followed, and the wisdom within because your experience is unlike the experience of just about any class that has ever come before yours. Seniors, you set an important tone at the outset of the school year. Nothing would stop us from learning, from growing, from working, or from bringing a whole lot of joy to the process.
 
I challenge you to carry this same spirit with you wherever you go, for the rest of your lives. Your communities and your families, and frankly, our society, need this from you. Your resilience and grit are battle-tested and proven. You will always know that you have the ability to transcend the most daunting of challenges. Your determination is rare. You do not shy away from difficult conversations; you speak your mind authentically and passionately. You accept differences of opinion with respect and civility. You love one another. You seize opportunities, and you thrive in community.
 
These attributes are not aspirational; you have shown us what is possible by living this way. Your charge is simple, but not easy …
 
Do not shy away from the next opportunity, the next community, or the next adventure. Keep Going, Keep Loving, Keep Fighting, Keep Learning, Keep Leading, and Bring all of that JOY every single day.
 
Congratulations to the Wayland Academy Class of 2021!




Celebrate the Success, Honor the Struggle

February 15, 2021

At Wayland Academy, our mission centers on the pursuit of knowledge and the development of character. Our mission feels particularly important this year. Our teachers, staff, and students continue to inspire us all and I marvel each day at the grace with which this community navigates such complicated times.
 
At our last assembly, I highlighted two themes that have emerged here as we recently crossed the halfway point in the school year.
 
1. We Celebrate Success

We celebrated the first performance of Working, a beautifully produced musical production performed safely for in-person audiences! We celebrated dozens of college acceptances at schools like Northwestern, Colby, University of Wisconsin-Madison and many more. We continued celebrating Black History Month with a student presentation on the history and meaning of the observation. We celebrated our weekly student speaker Shania, who authentically and courageously shared her experiences with Colorism. We celebrated our pride in the fact that the first black candidate for President of the United States, George Edwin Taylor, studied at Wayland. Finally, we celebrated the return of activities such as going off campus on the weekends and competing with other schools in athletics. I could go on! Personally, I ride this wave of inspiration daily as the Head of School here. It fuels all that I do, and it is a testament to the strength of the Wayland Academy community individually and collectively.
 
 2. We Honor the struggle.

If you follow Wayland Academy’s social media channels, you know that even in the face of all the challenges, we’ve been having a lot of fun. (If you’re not following us on social media, why not have some fun . . . go and do so right now!) At the same time, it’s important to acknowledge that behind the fun and celebrations, there are struggles. Nothing comes easy. Black History Month was born of struggle. Our impressive college acceptances derive from long days and nights with the College Counseling team. Our academic accomplishments follow the tireless, unrelenting commitment of Wayland teachers and the awe-inspiring resilience of our students. The opening of an in-person musical production, athletic competitions, and additional activities on campus owe thanks to the hours of thorough research, intense discourse, and difficult debate led by our amazing Director of Health Services, Karyn Kroschel, RN, and Medical Director, Dr. Seth Barudin. The teachers, staff, and students wrestle with changing protocols, quarantines, testing, and more. This past week our community faced a terrible reality when one of our own students unexpectedly lost a parent to cancer. That grieving continues and that pain is real, shared by the entire community. While these struggles don’t show up in social media, they are of course always part of our lives. While the challenges are difficult and even painful, they are integral to our growth. We as a community will continue to acknowledge that it is ok to struggle, and in fact, we honor the process.
 
I’ve shared often that this year has been the most challenging and rewarding of all my years in education. Wayland Academy continues to stand apart, as a beacon for optimism and hope for all of us. I am beyond grateful to be a member of this community. We have a long way to go this year—there will be more struggles—but there will also be much to celebrate. Both are critical to our pursuit of knowledge and the development of our character.
 

We Are Back

January 12, 2021
 
After a long, well-deserved winter break, the second Semester began online on January 4th. Students and teachers alike report excitement to be “together again” in any capacity. This past weekend, we saw most of our boarding students return to campus. That put the wind behind all of our sails.
 
Our first semester was the most challenging, rewarding, fun, difficult Semester many of us have ever experienced. It’s also a semester none of us will forget.
 
During the pandemic, returning to school means COVID-19 testing, quarantine, and an assortment of health and safety protocols. It is not always easy, though the chance to be a part of this exceptional community proves worth it.
 
Being together online or in-person is most important. While our nation faces unprecedented challenges and the pandemic rages on, Wayland folks stick together. Throughout the year, we’ve followed the leadership and the courage exhibited by our student body. We’ve engaged in discussions, and we’ve shared deeply about our experiences. 
 
At Wayland Academy, our community centers on knowledge and character. It is our motto and our mission. I take great pride in being a part of this community, and I’m filled with optimism as our students live with, develop, and inspire knowledge and character. Now more than ever, we all need that.
 
Second Semester, here we go!




Hope and Optimism in 2020


October 6, 2020


It’s not easy being a teenager. Adolescence is a time for young people to discover who they are and where they fit in the world. Imagine being a teenager in 2020. I think about that each day, and each day I am inspired by our Wayland students and by all of the young people throughout the country and around the world.
 
I see students making the most of their education online, in-person or however it happens to be served-up. I see young people connecting, laughing, singing, and celebrating at a distance, online, offline … It doesn’t matter, so long as they’re together. At Wayland every student belongs, each student is known, and the collective optimism is palpable. We are a small school with a huge heart. Our community is the catalyst for our accomplishments in classrooms, athletic fields, studios, stages, and beyond. This is true in 2020 and I imagine it’s been true since 1855.
 
The glue here (as is the case at most schools) is our faculty and our staff. If being a teenager in 2020 isn’t easy, imagine being a teacher. I’m in awe each day as I observe our teachers inspiring our students by going above and beyond the call of duty as a matter of course. The faculty and staff create a safe place and an environment through which students can focus wholeheartedly on their education, their citizenship, and their futures.
 
So yes, 2020 is hard, being a teenager is not easy, and teaching is the work of heroes. Still, I am filled with hope for our future. I’ll be following our students as they lead us through the challenges, I’ll be listening to our teachers, and I'll stay smiling all the way to 2021.


Inspiration in the Midst of Challenge

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

It's hard to believe we are halfway through our fifth full week of the 2020-2021 school year! I am so proud of our students on campus as well as those learning from a distance. Like the students, our faculty and staff have risen to the occasion. There is no shortage of inspiration to be found within the Wayland Academy community. We've been talking a lot about the opportunities and rewards that come as a result of facing difficulties and challenges. Friday brought a wonderful moment that encapsulated that concept beautifully. Below is the note I sent to our Board of Trustees to share an inspiring moment on September 11th.
Today, as is the case each year on September 11th, flowers showed up on Ann Nelson’s [Class of `89] bench in the courtyard in front of Swan Library. In our second all-school assembly on Brown Field, I talked about September 11th and especially shared the fact that we lost a member of the Wayland family that day. I shared what I have learned thus far about Ann, about her dynamic, enthusiastic personality, her infectious laugh, and her engaging demeanor. I spoke about her athleticism and her dreams and the Champions of Character Award that is given each year in her honor. I talked about how fortunate we all are to be alive and to be looking ahead at limitless dreams and opportunities. The community shared a moment of silence and then a student shared some thoughts about “compassionate curiosity and empathy for others.” Finally, we gave a cheer for 4 weeks of in-person learning and a job well done!
 
Maybe the best moment came later in the afternoon (about 20 minutes ago). While on the phone (doing some pacing, because I like to walk and talk) I peered out of my office window and caught a glimpse of one of our 9th graders, Tristan on one knee next to Ann’s bench. I was able to take a quick picture. It was a powerful moment. Tristan is from Chicago and he was born long after September 11th, 2001. Here he is today, spending a moment thinking about September 11th, Ann Nelson and what she meant to our community. Knowing Tristan, he is thinking about the dreams and opportunities that lie ahead as well.

Very cool. Very Wayland.
 
Above, are some pictures including the bottom one of Tristan taken from my office window.
 
Onward!

About Mr. Warnick

Jason Warnick officially assumed the role as Wayland Academy’s head of school on July 1, 2020. Initially a teacher, coach, dorm parent, and dean, Mr. Warnick is the beneficiary of 18 wonderful years working at independent schools. Mr. Warnick earned a B.A. from Wheaton College in Massachusetts and an M.A. in Communications with a concentration on New Media and Marketing from the University of Southern New Hampshire. Prior to Wayland, Mr. Warnick served in administrative roles at schools in Maine, Connecticut and New York. Mr. Warnick is a member of the board of trustees for the Independent Educational Consultant Association Foundation and enjoys reading, cycling and fly fishing. Most of all, Mr. Warnick enjoys time with his wife Colleen and their sons, Rowen, Max, Emmet and Mitchell.  
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