This week, the Harvard Graduate School of Education launched its CommonGood Campaign, a national school endeavor to help young people bridge divides and build stronger communities. St. Mark's is recognized as an "Early Leader" in this initiative, one of first 130 schools nationwide involved with the program.
In fact, St. Mark's involvement goes back even further. The CommonGood initiative is part of Harvard's Making Caring Common (MCC) movement, which St. Mark's has participated in from the outset. Since 2013, MCC has helped educators, parents, and communities raise children who are caring, responsible to their communities, and committed to justice. Eric Monheim, Director of College Counseling and Director of Strategic Projects at St. Mark's serves on the MCC Advisory Board.
"Our country is at a crossroads," said Dr. Richard Weissbourd, Senior Lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Faculty Director of the Making Caring Common project. "We need to mobilize the great strengths of Americans to restore the ties that bind us and to prepare young people to build strong, inclusive communities and to protect democracy. This work has perhaps never been more important." The CommonGood campaign aims "to motivate schools to take action to help mend our country's fractures and strengthen democracy."
The campaign seeks to advance the following specific goals: first, to deepen students' care for others and their communities; second, to increase equity and access for all students in the college admissions process; and third to reduce excessive achievement pressure in communities where it is detrimental to students. These goals align with and build on Making Caring Common's successful Turning the Tide initiative that has engaged more than 175 college admissions offices nationwide.
"St. Mark's efforts have been focused on point three: achievement pressure," says Mr. Monheim. "We have made a concerted effort in the last two years through the use of a variety of survey instruments to better understand how our students experience their academic life at St. Mark's as well as their transition to college. Through the unique opportunities provided by our St. Mark's Saturday program and by partnering with the Dean of Students Office, our Counselors, as well as Ms. Adams and Ms. Zhu in the the Community and Equity office, we are exploring avenues that will strengthen our community and ultimately, more effectively support our students."
Mr. Monheim added, "the Making Caring Common platform allows us to connect with important work being done in schools across the country who share our belief that one's college process can and should be a positive, edifying, and ultimately rewarding part of his or her high school experience. The emphasis on the greater good also helps to remind us all to keep the 'the college thing' in perspective."
"Early leader" schools like St. Mark's, who have helped to inform, shape, and build momentum for the campaign, have publicly committed to the program. They are expressing their support for the campaign and encouraging schools nationwide to join the effort.