Dear TGS Families:
Shortly after we return from spring break, students and faculty will be embarking on what is known as “Interim Week.” Faculty plan throughout the year to ensure a quality experience for students no matter their age or grade level. I thought it might be helpful to provide you with context for why interim weeks were developed and why we believe they’re an integral part of a student’s learning experience at The Gregory School.
First, Interim Week is mission driven. Strong academics, combined with opportunities for leadership and service to others is who we are. If you’ve ever walked past the riparian area on campus (located between the music room and the college counseling office), you’ve witnessed a product of what was then called “Humanities Week” back in the 90’s. The area was created by students and a beloved faculty member, John Menke, in a project that incorporated teamwork, science and service.
Second, as the school has evolved, leadership and team building experiences have been provided through a campus rope course and camping/hiking journeys to Mt. Lemmon and beyond. What we discovered during that time period of the school’s history, is that grade levels would be absent for a period of time and subsequently impact the instruction and planning for faculty and students remaining on campus. In other words, we created a month of “catch up” because we staggered the experiences. Thus, faculty came together and created what is now known as Interim Week: a time when we focus on the all-important aspects of the school’s mission like service to others and leadership, and we do this important work together.
In the spirit of ideation and continual feedback in our Fab Lab, Interim Week experiences have continued to evolve as well. We are very excited about this year’s approach with our 8th-12th grades. Faculty have approached this year’s Interim Week with an eye to service. Barbara Kingsolver’s Book, Small Wonder, was read by all of our 8th - 12th grade classes.
As English teacher Elizabeth Young explained, “English department faculty thought it would be meaningful to find a single text for all upper school students to read in an attempt to enter into a dialogue about what neighborliness and individual character look like. We agreed upon Barbara Kingsolver’s collection of essays Small Wonder. In her titular essay, Kingsolver writes, ‘Oh, how can I say this: People need wild places….To be surrounded by a singing, mating, howling commotion of other species, all of which love their lives as much as we do ours, and none of which could possibly care less about our economic status or our running day calendar. Wildness puts us in our place. It reminds us that our plans are small and somewhat absurd. It reminds us why, in those cases in which our plans might influence many future generations, we ought to choose carefully. Looking out on a clean plank of planet earth, we can get shaken right down to the bone by the bronze-eyed possibility of lives that are not our own’ (Barbara Kingsolver). These ‘wild places’ can be found anywhere outside of our normal, routine lives. Service to others is one such wild place, especially for adolescents. The more we started thinking about this curricular implementation, the more we loved the idea of dovetailing our reading of this text with a service-oriented Spring Interim."
Whether assisting with the Special Olympics or beautifying areas of campus, all offerings for Spring 2020 Interim Week will bring our students together to form special bonds with each other and the sponsoring faculty, as well as community members. The important work of Interim Week will also be acknowledged on student transcripts as yet another metric to show colleges and universities the well-rounded graduates produced by this exceptional independent school.
We thank you in advance for supporting the faculty who have worked hard to prepare unique and special experiences by ensuring your child’s participation. As always, we welcome your input and feedback.
Julie A. Sherrill, Ph.D.
Head of School
"The Gregory School is a place that is transforming learning and transforming students' lives. Gregory students lead institutions; they found movements; they invent technology; they run cities. Students leave TGS with a sense of agency; they believe they can change the world for the better and it is our aim to ensure we give them the knowledge, skills, experiences and confidence to do so."