INSIGHT: Active Engagement

By Paul Hagen, Director of Student Well-Being

Among the pictures hanging on my office wall is a favorite print by famed Mexican painter, Diego Rivera. It depicts two men working in a barren field, with little to show for their toil except the anticipation of a future harvest. This print reminds me that there is value in sustained effort and committed engagement, and that, although progress is not always immediately obvious, when a goal is coupled with persistence it can be achieved. The men in the painting are working—really working—and are singularly focused on the task at hand. They are engaged.

What does it mean to be “engaged?” Webster’s defines it as “being occupied” with some task or activity, or being “greatly interested in” or “deeply committed to” something. As we launch this new school year, we can learn a lot from the unnamed laborers in Rivera’s painting. We have work before us—just like the men depicted in the print—that will require intent focus and sustained effort. We are at the beginning of a substantial undertaking—the school year—that will require a steadfast commitment to see it through to the harvest. And to attain a fruitful harvest, we must all be purposefully engaged.

One way we prepare students for the kind of active engagement that is required is to begin the year with orientations. These unique, grade-level experiences are designed to set the tone for the year, to build relationships, to develop group norms, and to have fun together. They serve as a springboard for the experiences we will have all year long, and they prepare us all for the work ahead. Fall Orientations are a great way for us all to practice the engagement that will carry us through all year long.

Wishing our full community an engaging and engaged year together!