Larger Voices Calling . . . Listen.

The 2018-19 school year was a journey of recovery, opportunity, and growth.  The theme “Larger Voices Calling. . .  Listen” challenged us to move past our daily dramas, pressures, and patterns to fulfill the SBMS promise of helping our students discover a deeper sense of self and to learn how they learn.  

As I reflected on the theme throughout the school year and into the summer, I kept returning to what Daniel Pink referred to in his book Drive as the three most powerful elements of motivation for all people, both young and old. He writes that the most effective drivers of success and happiness come from cultivating  “1. Autonomy—the desire to direct our own lives; 2. Mastery—the urge to get better and better at something that matters; and 3. Purpose—the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves.” 

From the robust offerings of electives, Diamond Time, career studies, community service and outdoor education to the deep dives in our academic classes nurturing students’ intellectual vitality, a Santa Barbara Middle School education is built to draw out the passion, resilience, and unique potential of every child and teacher at SBMS. The depth and breadth of our program is not designed to indulge our children, but to engage their hearts, sharpen their minds, and help them learn to become the drivers of their own education. 

Perhaps the biggest driver missing from Daniel Pink’s study is the significance of feeling a sense of belonging, of being authentically known, of being part of a community, and ultimately, of being loved. Although this begins at home and with our families, we must also endeavor as a school to deepen our authentic relationships within our communities and continue to connect to the world and each other.

As I read through this summer edition of The Diamond, I am awestruck by the many stories of students, graduates, parents, teachers, and trustees all striving to listen to our larger voices. I am deeply grateful for these lessons of mastery, autonomy, love, and purpose, and inspired to dive into our forty-third year of SBMS with a renewed sense of wonder and hope.

With love and gratitude,

Brian McWilliams
Head of School
Santa Barbara Middle School