Head of School’s Notebook

December 7, 2022

Head of School’s Notebook: Free Days

I have worked at three different schools in my lifetime and attended three others from elementary school through high school. Each one had its own unique character, but all had a single similar tradition: free days. They weren’t called the same things in each place. At St. John’s in Houston, Texas, where I worked prior …


December 5, 2022

Head of School’s Notebook: Chester

Chester was a birthday present.  We picked him up on a cold December day in Belgrade, Montana in 2013, 8 weeks old, round and cuddly, with the soft coat and brown eyes so typical of yellow labs.  We spent much of the holiday break that year sleeping on various couches and chairs with Chester by …


November 17, 2022

Head of School’s Notebook: Enough

A friend of mine sent me a poem recently by Naomi Shihab Nye called “So Much Happiness.” It begins: It is difficult to know what to do with so much happiness. With sadness there is something to rub against, a wound to tend with lotion and cloth. When the world falls in around you, you …


November 2, 2022

Head of School’s Notebook: Fortunate Moments

We all tend to accumulate a lot of stuff over the course of our lives, far more than we need. Maybe that is why there is such a proliferation of storage facilities around the country. We need more space for the things that we can’t use or don’t really need. A friend of mine in …


October 14, 2022

Head of School’s Notebook: What is Cate?

I’ve spent the last week re-connecting with Cate alumni in various spots around the country. It has been several years since we have done such things, and it was wonderful to see so many thriving young people. They all had questions: What’s happening on the Mesa right now? How’s the volleyball team? Did we beat …


September 30, 2022

Head of School’s Notebook: Reading on the Road

I flew to the East Coast last week. When I was a boy, airplane travel was a relatively infrequent occurrence. My family took the train or drove most places. My grandparents lived in South Carolina, so at least once a year we would drive from our home in Massachusetts to my cousins’ home in Washington …


September 16, 2022

Head of School’s Notebook: Outings

Many years ago,  I read a piece at our Sunset Ceremony that I had prepared about Outings Week. “Almost before we go to School on the Mesa, we go into the woods,” I said. “Not so that we might escape the work ahead, but so that we might prepare for it, understand its relevance, remember …


June 19, 2022

Head of School’s Notebook: Juneteenth

Dear Friends, The sounds of the Mesa are a bit different as I write today. The cacophony of machinery and hammering associated with the renovation of Raymond Commons – which will ultimately be our Inquiry Center – is most conspicuous. Preparations for the Cate Summer Institutes are also underway, as we anticipate the arrival of …


May 20, 2022

Head of School’s Notebook: The Human Sea

Many years ago, I wrote in this Notebook about a school shooting that didn’t make the front page of the newspaper. I couldn’t understand at the time why such a tragedy could be upstaged by anything else. Maybe the publishers, I mused, or their readers, were no longer shocked by such violence. Or not shocked …


April 29, 2022

Head of School’s Notebook: Marking Time

It is that time of the year. Spring Family Weekend has passed and the dulcet tones of the musical, Mamma Mia, are a lingering memory. Seniors are counting the days to commencement. Underclassmen are imagining the summer that lies just over a month – and an exam period – away. And faculty are trying to …


April 14, 2022

Head of School’s Notebook: Gratitude

When Tyler ’22 and Talia Tom ’23 stepped to the microphone last week as co-masters of ceremony for the International Convocation, there was a buzz of energy and anticipation among the audience. Our students have a great many distinctive and inspiring attributes, among which is a profound and enthusiastic appreciation for the countries, communities, and …


March 30, 2022

Head of School’s Notebook: Friends

I attended a memorial service this past weekend for Tom Jones, the parent of two Cate students, one a member of the Class of ’13 and the other a current sophomore. Tom and I shared a college, but that wasn’t the reason he became my friend. It was Tom’s captivating, adventurous, unflappable, occasionally irreverent and …


March 4, 2022

Head of School’s Notebook: Joy

In Monday’s Convocation, Cate was visited by a hypnotist. We have had so many marvelous and compelling speakers this year, many of whom our kids are still buzzing about – Athena Jones ’90, Sonia Nazario, Walter Riley and Candida Pugh, Von Miller – but even relative to such luminaries, the hypnotist generates a palpable buzz …


February 18, 2022

Head of School’s Notebook: Benny Kumiyama Sanchez

On Thursday afternoon, I stood before the Vietnam War Memorial and found myself drawn to a name. The monument is full of names. Just over 58,000 of them, a docent said. But my gaze was taken by one in particular: Benny Kumiyama Sanchez. I was in Washington D.C. with a host of Cate students attending …


February 4, 2022

Head of School’s Notebook: Senior Small Things

At a boys basketball game last night, a cheer started late in the first half. “We want John! We want John!” Cate was winning by a large margin at the time, but John had not yet been on the floor. A lover of sport and a senior, John Endres is the guy we all want …


January 21, 2022

Head of School’s Notebook: Black Joy

We began our celebration of Martin Luther King Day on Monday with drums. There is something elemental about the sounds and rhythms of percussion. We respond naturally, almost instinctively, even at 9:00 a.m. on a Monday morning. The drummers themselves, led by our own Mamadou Pouye, hailed from Senegal, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, and Guinea, …


December 9, 2021

Head of School’s Notebook: Home for Thanksgiving

There is a great line credited to Bilbo Baggins, the Hobbit made famous by J.R.R. Tolkein.  “It’s a dangerous business going out of your door,” he said,” … there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.” I thought of that line just a few weeks ago when I stepped out the door …


November 12, 2021

Head of School’s Notebook: Seniors

“Which of our actions have the most meaning?” That’s the question Paige Rawiszer ’22 asked us all several weeks ago, remembering a chance encounter in the summer of 2018 with Brenda Martinez Ruiz ’21, which ultimately led to Paige coming to Cate. Could Brenda have known in that brief conversation that she was changing the …


October 29, 2021

Head of School’s Notebook: The Return of the Familiar

Family Weekend on the Mesa was always something we could rely on. Everything was better, the kids would say, even the food. And then, all of the sudden, there were no Family Weekends.  Spring of 2020 was cancelled due to COVID-19 … then Fall of 2020 and Spring of 2021. There were a lot of …


October 9, 2021

Head of School’s Notebook: Hometowns

I wandered over to the Tennis Center on Thursday afternoon to watch our girl’s varsity take on the only team in the league who has beaten us this year. That loss came right after the Outings Week break and our athletes were feeling the effects of their hiatus from sport. But our tennis team has …