In the Middle of Difficulty Lies Opportunity

By May 5, 2017 Head's Blog

Header (1024x512)

This week I have been immersed with a group of our Middle Years Programme teachers reviewing our curriculum. Yesterday morning our facilitator shared a video that really resonated with us. This video shows pianist Maria João Pires in an incident that happened in 2013. At the start of a lunchtime concert in Amsterdam, the orchestra begins a concerto. To her horror, she realizes that she learned the wrong concerto. The pain and anguish on her face is heartbreaking.

What happens next is what fascinated the team. The conductor continues to lead the orchestra. After a minute or so, João Pires composes herself, gains focus and plays the right concerto from memory, despite having rehearsed a different one. The conductor played a key role: he had faith in her and in her abilities. Rather than stop, he carried on, encouraging her to start playing. She had everything she needed to be successful already, she just needed encouragement.

This reminded me of the learning that happens every day at Elmwood. Learning can be hard. It is often uncomfortable, as we stretch ourselves to reach new heights of performance. However, just as the conductor recognized and understood João Pires’ talent, our teachers see the potential in each of our girls, and understand how to help them maximize it.

Last week’s Celebration of Learning was an excellent example of this. Both the PYP exhibition and the MYP personal project require students to challenge themselves, to stretch and to take risks. I know that the girls appreciated the guidance of their teacher “conductors”—and that having someone to push them and believe in them made their projects better. Thank you to Ms. Jenika Alvarez and Mr. Jason Levesque for leading the projects, and to all of our faculty that acted as mentors.

Best regards,


About Cheryl Boughton

Cheryl has been leading Elmwood since August 2008, when she was chosen by the Board of Governors, after a global search, to be the eleventh Headmistress of the School. She has a rich and diverse background in independent education having held progressively senior roles managing independent schools in the United Kingdom.