I could wax poetic about Kirby’s successes. Attending Kirby events, where students demonstrate what they’ve learned and what excites them, lifts me up both personally and professionally. Our children are inspirational and the educators who serve to help these students reach new heights are invaluable. (Pictures of these events are available on Kirby’s Facebook page.)
As important as our events are, I’d like to take this opportunity to tell two stories that few people know, about the inconspicuous moments and the lesser-known events, that make Kirby the wonderful place that it is.
It’s hard to imagine this now, but Kirby didn’t always have a counseling office. This is the story of about how it came to be. A few years ago, a particularly driven class of students was wearing themselves ragged. They were breaking unwritten records with sleep deprivation, coffee consumption, and palpable anxiety. A member of this class found this to be unacceptable–her name is Adriana. AD, as she was known at school, was highly sensitive to her classmates’ plight. She worried about their isolation and how they were all trying so hard to hide their struggles. She bravely brought her concerns to a handful of administrators at Kirby and together they took action. A committee was formed to participate in Stanford’s Challenge Success program. AD and several of her peers attended the Stanford program with us. Although adding a counseling position was among the more expensive options to pursue, AD insisted that it was crucial and won us over with her case. The counseling office was founded in the Spring semester of that same year and many other changes were made at Kirby based on the experience of this group.
I would love to share one more story about a student-led change at Kirby: the addition of the gender-neutral bathroom. Morgan was the president of the Gay Straight Alliance last year and recognized that many members of her organization were struggling with the lack of a bathroom option that suited their needs. Morgan set about writing a survey and working with the administration to gather the appropriate data to drive change. At the time, there were two single-stall bathrooms available for teachers to use in the building. Morgan was able to generate a compelling case to convert one of them into a student-inclusive gender neutral bathroom. Her well-made case cleared the way for swift, supportive action. By spring of last year, she had achieved her goal. Morgan’s data also started a larger conversation at Kirby about gender identity and the language around it which continues today.
To me, these stories illustrate our students’ demonstrated success in self-advocacy. They have the capacity to see themselves as agents of change and stewards of their communities. This is a tribute to our students, but in no small part a result of the Kirby environment where students feel cared for and comfortable to be themselves.
Thanks for taking the time to read this reflection. And thank you for making Kirby a caring and compassionate community. I look forward to sharing more soon!
Head of School