Students should seek balance between striving for greatness and finding their purpose, said Head of School Rabbi Marc Baker in a speech at Bain Capital on Wednesday, June 5 to Gann Board Members, parents and friends of Gann in the Boston community. 

Baker stressed that high school is a unique time for kids to discover their interests and passions, but it also brings stress and the pressure to perform in a competitive setting. That juxtaposition set the stage for Baker to describe how Gann fosters an environment where students can discover their purpose while being challenged by the curriculum.

“We want our students to grow and develop as human beings [and] sometimes that often gets lost in the rigor and fear of high school,” said Baker, adding that Gann students are consistently challenged by the core curriculum and will continue to be as STEM initiatives are established.

Students who attend Gann are not simply channeled for outcomes. Each student embarks on their own Jewish journey, which helps them discover purpose not only in school, but also in their community and in the world, added Baker.

Baker suggested that one of the biggest challenges in education today is that kids are not able to answer “why,” such as why do I have to take an AP class and why does this information matter?  It is challenging for students to even approach these types of questions, nonetheless answer them, but part of Gann’s culture is to encourage students to embrace a bigger purpose beyond what is directly in front of them.

“High school is a profound time for kids because they begin to develop serious habits of mind and serious beliefs about what the purpose is in what they are doing,” said Baker.

At the core of Gann’s mission is when students begin to discover purpose and meaning in their own lives, and it prefaced Baker’s conclusion as he recalled a story from a parent.

“People often say that when they come into Gann, you can just feel something in the school…there is energy and something feels different,” said Baker. “One parent once said to me, ‘I looked at ten independent schools and they all had their strengths and weaknesses, but one thing I can say for sure about Gann is that I don’t think kids are happier in any other place.'”

While that comment had attendees smiling — particularly among Gann parents — Baker was quick to explain how this happiness applies to the school.

“It is not happiness because of a lack of rigor…our kids are working hard and parents around the room can attest to that especially right now being [final] exams,” said Baker. “But who are we kidding…Gann kids are in the same game as all their peers  but I think there is an underlying joy to their work because a Gann education is enveloped in a broader sense of purpose.”

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