Lower School Blog

How do you know if a boy is successful? [READ MORE]

Head of Lower School Paris McLean

When I first arrived at Princeton Academy of the Sacred Heart in the summer of 2015, I was excited and anxious to learn more about the school's rich, diverse, and committed community. Through a series of meetings, "get to know you events" and casual conversations, the power and depth of the Princeton Academy community unfolded before my eyes. I not only knew more about the people that comprise the school, I transparently understood why people are so very invested. Princeton Academy is a special place; a unique learning environment that matches the essence of boyhood with strong academic opportunity and deep social-emotional awareness, which promotes boys to be their very best selves in any space they enter. 

Now in my fifth year as head of Lower School, these feelings and noticings are increasingly present in my daily life. With each boy and each family, I gain a greater appreciation for our great school and the individuals who enrich it. And even with this knowledge, there are moments that make me pause and reflect on the experience we provide.

Last week I was having a conversation with a prospective family when one of the boy's parents bravely asked me, how do you know if a boy is successful? 

What a brilliant question! 

Ultimately, we want all of our students to meet with success and that success can unfold in a variety of ways. As I thought through my answer, I drilled down on an aspect of our school life that we hold true; happiness. Princeton Academy is a place where happiness permeates through the building. Our learning spaces, hallways, playing fields, common areas and more all harbor happiness. Whether you see the joyful smile of a boy engaged in a project or hear the subtle giggle and laughter of two classmates enjoying the company of one another, happiness is core to our school's being. Knowing this, I replied to this parent that success can be measured in happiness.

A happy boy will be one who enjoys learning, has a sense of curiosity, and holds the bravery to take safe-risks academically. This boy will foster a strong sense of self, be a self-advocate, and speak up for others. And when a boy is truly happy, he will be comfortable and willing to stretch himself into all of the gifts that are presented to him each day.