Guiding Principles and Intentional Choices
Tuesday night, a group of parents, students, alumni, teachers and trustees met with our architecture team to look at their first ideas for a Cade Campus master plan. We offered critiques and kudos for each of the forward-thinking designs that we saw and tried to find what we thought were the best parts of each design. However, before we began with this, we reviewed the set of Guiding Principles that we developed for this project. I think they are worth repeating here.
- The facilities and grounds of the campus will respect, enhance, and incorporate into daily life the elements of the existing landscape and environment, both natural and man-made that are unique to our campus.
- ESA is a family, and its campus culture will foster a welcoming, inclusive, and supportive community.
- The facilities and arrangement of the campus will reflect an appropriately scaled local vernacular architecture that is both responsive to the environment and true to its place and culture.
- The proper planning and utilization of space and facilities will develop each student as a whole person intellectually, spiritually, and physically.
- The facilities and grounds of the campus will reflect and be informed by the culture of trust, freedom, and mutual respect inherent in the mission, vision and values, and honor code of ESA.
- The history of this campus is significant and unique. We will celebrate, preserve, enhance, and be informed by the landscape, historical structures, and artifacts found throughout.
These Guiding Principles illustrate a really important point about ESA. This was echoed in Wednesday’s chapel speech by 6th/9th grade science teacher, Bullard Jones. He was speaking about the importance of the Honor Code at ESA as students prepared to sign the Honor Book. He said, “Much of the weirdness around campus came about through sheer happenstance, but the most important differences you will see resulted from calculated, intentional choices.” The Guiding Principles are an example of those “calculated, intentional choices.” One of the things I love most about ESA is that we always operate with a set of Guiding Principles. As we look to setting a cornerstone for ESA’s future, the Guiding Principles found above and in our Mission and Values Statements will be our North Star.
From the philosophical to the quotidian
In light of the plans presented, and given our enrollment this year, there have been several questions about the growth of ESA. Here is where we are and where we are headed. We have reached a milestone in our growth ahead of schedule! We are practically full at both campuses, which means two full sections in each grade level at the Lafayette Campus and three full sections in each grade level at the Cade Campus. This has been one of our primary strategic goals as a school because it represents the point of greatest efficiency. We do not plan to expand to the next level at any time in the near future. However, as we are trying to look out 20-30 years, I can foresee a point in time when demand may be great enough for us to consider the next level of growth (three sections at each grade in the LS and four sections in the MS and US). So, for example, the master plan for the Cade campus takes that into consideration. We want to make sure that what we do today doesn’t have to be undone in 20 years. However, that growth will have to be carefully implemented. I am very aware that what we do better than any other school in the state doesn’t easily scale to any size. We choose to remain small so that we can offer our students the very best and most unique experience in education in Louisiana. I close with another quote from Mr. Jones’ talk that expresses the very essence of this place. “It takes guts to be different…but by far the boldest, most counter-cultural thing we do as a community is to trust each other.” Areté!