Head of School Blog

Musings on an Old Adage: The Early Bird Gets the Worm

Jill Singleton Volume: 4 Issue: 3 October 1, 2014

As a child I was taught that if you aren’t 10 minutes early, you’re late.  The lesson itself did not come easily, but was hard won.  I remember in painful detail a time my father said we would be leaving at 10:00, and when that assigned time arrived and I was still not ready, he took off without me.  I don’t even remember what the experience was that I missed – but I have never forgotten the fact that when my father said we were leaving at a certain time, he meant business.
As a boarding high school student I had a favorite teacher whom I have fondly remembered over the years for the many life lessons she taught me.  In addition to having a passion for her subject matter, Ms. Blake also took her job as our life coach seriously.  “Ninety percent of success in life is showing up,” Ms. Blake taught us.  Over the years, I have definitely come to see the wisdom of Ms. Blake’s comment.  As a Head of School I can see definite patterns of success levels among students and teachers – those who are driven, ambitious and on-point are most often  the ones who show up early and well-prepared, and are certainly loathe to be late.
I am sad to see that the effort and commitment required to make sure one shows up on time appears to be a dying trend in our culture.  In our last admissions season we were amazed to see attendance records on transcripts from previous schools that recorded students as being late and/or absent upwards of 40-50 times in a given school year!  Needless to say this factored in heavily on our assessment of these candidates – a sentiment I know is shared among many top-tier independent school communities.
As part of our spirituality program at school, students frequently share in their daily Examen that the best part of their day was “getting to school on time.”  When students arrive on time they feel confident, secure and on top of things.  When students arrive late, they feel insecure and unsure of what is happening, and probably feel socially awkward as well.  Think about what it feels like to arrive late to a meeting – first, you’re aware of the eyes that are on you which can cause feelings of discomfort, and then you sit down and have to work double-time to figure out where things are in the conversation, hoping beyond hope that no one asks for your opinion or input before you feel you’ve fully “landed.”
As students and families continue to settle into school routines, I implore you to work on your morning routine and schedule to ensure an on-time arrival each day, maximizing your child’s success and experience at school.  Of course there will be times when things come up and are beyond your control, but with effort these can be the exception rather than the rule. To expand on Ms. Blake’s adage, “Ninety percent of success in life is showing up – on time!”
To read more about the effects of tardiness of you child’s education: http://everydaylife.globalpost.com/effects-tardiness-childs-education-25692.html
Questions?  Comments?  Ideas?  I’d love to hear them!  Email me: jsingleton@allsaintshoboken.com

Volume: 4 Issue: 4  October 1, 2014