We live in a world of diminished resources. In rural New England our student population is shrinking - rapidly. As a result, competition for students has risen dramatically, even within the public school sector. Our major donors are increasingly pressed by a larger and larger pool of worthy applicants for a finite sum of money. The response of many schools is to circle their proverbial wagons. Maybe, they wonder, we can wait it out?
No they can’t. No we can’t. The key to our sustainability is a total commitment, at all levels, to the cultivation of imagination.
We need to imagine our way out of our current predicament or we stand to lose a lot, maybe everything.
At our recent all-school family pot luck I took a few minutes of my very precious time with parents to talk about the power of imagination. How can our schools be sustained without our most valuable natural resource - our children. At The Sharon Academy we seek to, “awaken students to their immense potential and the difference they can make in the world” (the concluding sentence of our mission statement). To do so we must actively and intentionally help them IMAGINE their potential. I ended my talk to parents with the following thought.
I have learned so much from all of you, parents, students and faculty and staff over the years - it’s enormously humbling. One of the most important lessons has to do with something you won’t find in our course catalog, the program of studies, or on our web site (yet) - it has to do with the importance of imagination in our lives, in the lives of our children. In this instance I mean instilling in them the ability to imagine their best selves, to imagine possibilities they may not have previously considered. One of society’s greatest failures is the failure of imagination. Please join us in our collective work of instilling imaginative capacity in all of our children - a capacity that will fundamentally alter not just their lives but the lives of all those they reach out and touch.
About The Author
Head of School, The Sharon Academy
Michael Livingston has been the Head of School at The Sharon Academy (TSA) since 2006 after serving as the Assistant Head of School and Humanities Teacher for the previous five years. The Sharon Academy is an independent school that serves students in grades 7-12 in the Town of Sharon located in the Upper Valley of Vermont. Michael earned his Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of California Berkeley and his Masters Degree in education from the University of Vermont. He received an Educational Leadership Certification from Keene State College in 2002. Michael began working in education as an elementary school teacher in 1981.
After serving as its’ President, Michael now sits on the Executive Committee of the Vermont Independent School Association (VISA). In addition to his position on the Board of the Independent School Association of Northern New England (ISANNE), he is also a member of the Executive Committee of the Council of Independent Schools (CIS) in Vermont, and serves on the Program Committee of the Montshire Museum in Norwich, VT. He has chaired and served on visiting committees of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
Michael lives in Sharon, Vermont, with his wife Laurie. They have three children and two grandchildren. Other interests include travel, biking, snowshoeing, skiing ice hockey, gardening (garlic specifically), backpacking and raising sheep, trout, chickens, and children.
Previous community involvement includes:
- Co-Director of the Mindfulness Practice Center
- Upper Valley Waldorf School Board member and Chair
- Resource Consultant for the Vermont Department of Education
Co-Founder of a literacy program for children in Chicxulub, Yucatan, Mexico