When Our Children Make Mistakes…
Like any school, Brentwood is not immune to challenging situations regarding student behavior. It is never easy, but I want you all to know that it is because we try to manage these difficult situations, when we become aware of them, that we can provide the vast majority of our students with the kind of school they want to be a part of, and the kind of school our parents want their children to attend.
When one peels away the layers of what makes Brentwood a great school, the theme that continues to surface and re-surface, time and time again, over decades is that as a school, we care about your children and our students. My dad told me years ago that the most important and powerful word a parent needs to know is “no”. No, you cannot have more of an allowance, no you cannot stay out until 3 am, no you will not be disrespectful to others…. and the list could go on. Helping our students develop the ethical and moral responses when confronted with a challenging decision is one our greatest challenges as educators. Equally important but perhaps even more powerful, is empowering our students to learn how to help themselves and help their friends when there is a need. Sometimes this does mean standing alone among one’s peers and drawing a line in the sand for their friends, and saying to them, "No, we aren't going to do that because as your friend I really care about you and don't want you to get yourself into trouble."
Young adults do find it difficult when one of their good friends makes a poor decision and the school in turn has to make the ethical decision to respond. Occasionally, this may mean that one of our students has to leave the school. The emotional response from the students can be confusing for them. On the one hand, they want to advocate for their friend, while also understanding on an intellectual level that the school has to make decisions that are hard for our students to accept. When students ask me what the rationale for these difficult decisions is, and I provide them with an explanation, I also ask them what they could have done differently to prevent their good friend from making poor choices.
The school cares deeply about our students and that care may have to extend to the greater good for an individual, and the greater good of the community as a whole. At the end of the day, the message I deliver more often than any other is that young adults are in control of their decisions and as a result, must also accept the outcomes.
I welcome any feedback and please remember that the school is managed by all of us- students, faculty and staff and parents. Enjoy the holiday.