Discovering the Why (By Dr. Dawn Nichols, Head of School)

Dawn Nichols
As I have for many years at this time, I attended two very fine back-to-back conferences last week: The Heads Network, and NAIS (National Association of Independent Schools).  The first conference was devoted to such topics as brain research and its link to leadership attributes, how diversity shifts our brains out of dormancy, and the freedom and power that rest in that brief space between stimulus and response. 
As has been typical, a highlight of the second conference was the Heads of School annual meeting with the NAIS President. Donna Orem, newly named to this role, who shared inspirational thoughts and helpful data regarding the work in our schools, which number around 1,500 within the NAIS world.
Both gatherings offered opportunity for peer-to-peer conversing, as well as individual reflection time. One of the golden nuggets that influenced my own reflection time was captured in the words of Mark Twain, quoted by one of the presenters, “The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you found out why.”
Of course that first important day was a gift from my parents, as blessed by God. The other day is less easy to pinpoint. However, as I look through the lens of life’s work, I learned many years ago that my passion rested in schools, where one has the incredible opportunity to touch the future through the lives of students. Being a wife and mother are forever important to me – absolute givens. But discovering that second most important day - discovering that why – has afforded me an enriching career journey, which has led to St. Michael’s Catholic Academy, where the community is as warm and welcoming as any that I have experienced.
The conferences were terrific. The reflection time was nourishing. And then it was great to return this week to the place where our students are working hard to find a way to be their best selves today while getting ready to say hello to tomorrow.
Best wishes for a restful spring break,
Dawn Nichols