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Letters from the Head of School

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Alfred F. (Rik) Dugan III, Head of School
Every child deserves a round of applause. The power of positive reinforcement, affirmation, and congratulations is immeasurable, and I was reminded of this today during our Kindergarteners’ inspiring “Dinos and Donuts” presentation.

Imagine this: After weeks of work in the form of discovery, critical thinking, research, writing, creating, illustrating, and more, it is now time to present your findings to a large audience of your peers, their families, and school educators. Public speaking can be daunting enough, but this forum could be intimidating at any level - defending a dissertation, presenting in the boardroom, you name it. This is precisely why the chorus of “ooohhhs” and “ahhhs” from the audience at every appropriate moment of the presentation made the environment not only safe, but joyful, uplifting, and validating. This is how confidence is built through the development of critical competencies. This is how a positive association with the academic environment is forged. This is how joyful curiosity and creativity are nurtured. This is how lifelong learners take flight. Every child deserves a round of applause.

From the moment the table of papier mache dinosaurs was unveiled the crowd erupted in applause. With each presentation, every boy received an ovation, full of cheers, whistles, and nodding heads. Active, whole body listening (a skill that Princeton Academy Kindergarteners utilize everyday) was exercised by all in attendance - and being listened to feels really good. Each student was celebrated individually as an expert in his field and the group was congratulated as a whole, not just for the outcome of their work, but most importantly, for the work process itself. When a child is believed in and they know it, anything is possible. This is how a growth mindset is developed and the whole child grows. Every child deserves a round of applause.

Thank you to Ms. Kazi for creating this space for our boys to thrive for the many years that she has - it is essential. Thank you also to Mr. Harrington, one of the original kindergarten paleontologists now supporting the next generation. Dinos and Donuts is one of the many signature projects that make the Princeton Academy experience so special. 

And oh yeah, one more thing: The event was capped off with donuts - a perfect way to celebrate. Positivity and joy carry the day. I can guarantee that each student will remember this moment for the rest of their lives, and it will contribute to their formation in a constructive way. What could be better than that?

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