Leadership and Generosity
Lord House was buzzing last night. Our 11 Curvey Scholars and their parents joined Jim, Shirley, and Scott Curvey for our annual reception – an event that has become one of the most awaited highlights of my fall.
After we posed for our traditional group shot before the sun set, we retreated to the living room. For our newest scholars, I briefly introduced how the Curvey Scholar Program came to be through the generosity of Jim and Shirley Curvey. After citing what the data reveals about Curvey Scholars (in short: they have an immensely positive, disproportionate effect on Brewster), I encouraged our Curvey Scholars to think about how they might embrace opportunities for themselves as leaders and mentors. I asked them to think about how they can really dig in here and lead using kindness as a compass point. All the students shared their gratefulness for the opportunities that the Curvey Scholar Program has presented them, but I think Kaya, a senior prefect, represented all when she talked about how her maturation from an incoming student – just grateful for the chance to attend Brewster – has evolved to feeling a sense of responsibility and desire to contribute to and lead her community.
I followed by making an unexpected announcement I had long looked forward to making: in a stunning act of generosity, the Curvey family has endowed a new fellowship fund that will support all current and future Curvey scholars to take a trip during a summer while a Brewster student – to have an adventure – and expand their world. The new Curvey Fellowships Program will begin next summer, with members of the Class of 2018 and 2019 participating.
The room was abuzz when I turned the floor over to Mr. Curvey, who offered a counterpoint to my request that Curvey Scholars dig in here, deploying his characteristic dry wit as he compelled students to relax, have fun, adventure, quoting St. Augustine: “The world is a book and those who don’t travel read only a page.”
I visited some dorms after the gathering and, as I walked around campus, I thought about the legacy of Curvey Scholars and how they find the leaders within themselves to make the great culture here even more so – and the Curvey family’s remarkable act of generosity in offering these students an adventure somewhere in the United States or Canada.
How, I wondered, will the combination of leadership and generosity conspire kindness.
As I cast through my thoughts and feelings and experiences in the light of early morning, I was reminded of the many adventures Nancy and I have had. Years ago, before kids, we scrimped and saved and bought airline tickets to distant places and brought a guidebook and backpacks and encountered the broader world. Central and South America, Europe, Africa, Alaska, far flung islands in the Caribbean and Pacific became alive to us. They became real places and real people, their histories and current realities became at least a bit part of our lives. Each of these moments changed us, allowing us to go back to our work with kids somehow different, more wise, more aware of the larger world around us.
So in thinking about our Curvey Scholars, who surely spent time dreaming last night of their adventures to come, and who will hopefully wake up this morning and think a bit differently about their agency as leaders here, I’m reminded of two quotations from John Muir, one of the best-known American explorers and adventurers who changed how others thought about the responsibility all hold in community:
“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.”
“Going out, I found, was really going in.”
Could it be that the deepest virtue of having adventure comes with how such adventure changes us, allows us to see the connections books simply can’t show us so poignantly? Could it be that a change in context allows us to see ourselves and our lives yet more clearly? Could it be that adventure galvanizes us to do our life’s work?
I think so.
Thank you, Curvey Scholars, for making my night.
And Thank you, Curvey Family, for shaping the dreams and thus the futures of our Curvey Scholars.