Reach for the Stars

As I travelled home this summer, I watched a bit of news at the airport and saw a space shuttle being flown on the back of a 747 to a museum somewhere up the Hudson River. Throngs of people watched as this impressive spacecraft made its way to its final resting place. While I was fascinated by the event, I found myself also saddened at what seemed to be the end of an era of space exploration. I couldn’t help but wonder if our race had reached its limits in space, and we would no longer be awed with news such as the landing of a man on the moon or the launch of an international space station.

A couple of months passed with not much space news, and then to my surprise, a craft named Curiosity was sending images back from Mars! My fears of space-age-stagnation were unfounded. Behind the scenes scientists were at work creating another great leap, even though that leap was likely only possibly after years of incremental inching forward toward their goal. Before you begin to ask “What planet is he on?,” let me explain how I found space exploration and education to be in the same orbit.

Often we choose not to pursue momentous goals because they seem simply unattainable. Rather than “reaching for the moon,” we stay in our comfort zones rather than risk failure. At our first all-faculty meeting I shared a TED Video by Matt Cutts – “Try Something New For 30 Days” . The essence of his message was to escape our comfort zones and try something new for thirty days. It was a challenge I’ve accepted and I challenged our faculty to do the same. The new daily habit can be anything from a new exercise routine to intentional acts of compassion.

Since this meeting I have heard from a number of faculty who are trying the 30-day challenge and I would encourage you and your family to consider it as well. Consider watching the TED Talk video and attempting something that you may have previously thought to be too difficult. The short time frame of 30 days ensures that the end is not far off, but the incremental gains you make each day may add up to a surprising outcome.

Education and space travel both require a vision to go beyond the status quo, to break through the gravitational pull that keeps us firmly planted where we’ve always been. Maybe the only difference is that space travel requires people to look up and dream of great feats, while education calls us all to look within to fulfill our dreams. It is the start of a new school year, the slate is clean and the possibilities are endless. I hope you and your children are finding everything you could possibly need to “reach for the stars” at FIS.

Paul Fochtman
Head of School