Dear Turning Point Families,
We open our doors every day to create a dynamic learning community in which each child grows into their best self.
I had Turning Point’s mission statement firmly in mind this week when welcoming our students back to school, with music and a rainbow arch in our school colors, and with a very special performance from our newly-formed Cheer Squad!
One constant, no matter the year, is our children’s excitement to return to school, to get to know their new teachers, to connect with friends, and to re-establish routines. No matter the age of a student, inhabiting a world separate from home provides our children with rich fodder for the development of their identities and esteem. When children come to the dinner table with news from their independent lives, they foster a strong sense of self fueled by the telling of their unique stories as they grow into their best selves.
Anchored by our school’s mission statement, I spent much of the summer reflecting on the year ahead. Whenever I encounter Turning Point’s mission statement, these are the words that jump out at me: each child, every day.
It takes commitment, attunement, and high expectations to fulfill this promise. The ways in which we create the conditions for dynamic learning for each child, every day set Turning Point apart. Our teachers thoughtfully and collaboratively design our program to stimulate curiosity and courage, which allows students to feel supported in taking risks that expand their thinking and hone their skills.
Our Positive Equation and corresponding Table of Elements reflect the curricular and pedagogical design that encourages students to lean into their edges. Part of my summer learning was deepening my understanding of the neurobiology that undergirds and fosters dynamic learning.
Dynamic learning encompasses change; it’s positive, energizing, and full of new ideas. The word dynamic involves pursuit; it’s about forward motion. These notions are directly based on neuroscience and the tenets of positive psychology—and they directly involve and engage the neurotransmitter dopamine.
You have likely heard of dopamine; it commonly gets conflated with pleasure, perhaps because dopamine plays a key role in the reward pathway. But in truth, dopamine propels us toward what we want and determines how ready we are to persist through obstacles to get there.
Dopamine doesn’t distinguish between the “value” of an objective; “worthy” or “unworthy”—where we steer dopamine is up to each of us. At Turning Point, we seek to steer it toward learning in the five categories of well-being represented in our Table of Elements: intellectual, emotional, physical, social, and emotional.
Teachers intentionally design assessments with student success at the forefront. We know that when students feel successful, confident, and competent, they are motivated to tackle the next challenge. Students’ motivation increases when they have agency over their learning and can incorporate their individual strengths and interests. From the first day of school, teachers create classroom environments and positive relationships that lay the groundwork for a year filled with risk-taking, collaboration, and problem-solving.
We couldn’t ask for a better team of educators, who flexibly implement systems and programs that provide motivation by interspersing structure (expectations our children can count on) and novelty (what’s unexpected in a positive way). This balance underscores our commitment to allowing our children to live their lives as fully as they can. As always, I am honored to work alongside these incredible teachers and mentors.
I look forward to my time with all your children this year and look forward to welcoming you in person to more campus events as the year unfolds.
Dr. Laura Konigsberg
Head of School