Welcome to Gould Academy
To All Members of the Gould Community,
At the end of the first day of my service as head at Gould Academy, and I want to share a few thoughts with all of you as we embark on this journey together.
First, Gould is incredibly beautiful, peaceful, and grounding. Bethel has always been a place that I have gravitated toward, from the day I first set foot on campus as a prospective student, to my return as a young teacher and coach. Crossing into Maine last week with my wife and children, we were greeted by a small sign marking the border near Gilead; it read, “Welcome Home.” Our first night here, I walked our dogs through the quiet campus and felt those words sink into my soul. Gould is home, and there is no better place to be in times of peace or tumult.
And there is no more important job than that of providing a great education, and no greater solution to solving the world’s problems than through education. Gould provides an opportunity to make a difference not just in the world, but also in the lives of individual people, and this is our charge. As a school, a community, a state, and a nation, we have a history and a tradition of protest, revolution, and betterment. As Americans, we are duty-bound to confront our own shortcomings, to lift ourselves up, to help our neighbors, to guide the world as a beacon of hope. The commitment we make to ourselves is that which we make to the rest of the world, “out of many, one.”
This afternoon, walking the halls of Hanscom, I paused in classrooms once occupied by a young Tao Smith and veteran teachers — Mac Davis, Tineke Ouwinga, Doc O, Lucia Owen, Charlie Newell, John Wight, and many others. Tredding the well-worn stairs back to my office, I passed a poster of Barack Obama with the following quote:
Hope is the bedrock of this nation. The belief that our destiny will not be written for us, but by us, by all those men and women who are not content to settle for the world as it is, who have the courage to remake the world as it should be.
I am a firm believer that there is no “me” when it comes to running a successful school or business. We are all in this together, and we have an incredible opportunity and privilege to guide, to empower, to learn, and to work as a team to get it right. There are real challenges ahead of us, shedding light on inherent challenges that our world must address, among them the future of education, the health of our planet, inherent disparities created by poverty, access to health care, political unrest and upheaval, racial and social justice, and real inequities in our society for those with different color skin, identity, worship, and place of origin.
We will confront these challenges together, as a community. We will support each other to think differently and have the courage to see the world from other angles and perspectives. We will recalibrate our definition of success from that of individual accomplishment to, “when you succeed, I succeed.” And, we will never lose sight of the “why:” Why we each chose Gould; Why education matters; Why we teach and work at a school, and why this is the best job at the best place, at the right moment in time.
These past nine months, as I have prepared to assume my new role at Gould, I have met with many individuals on campus and off. Each step along the way, I have been overwhelmed by the enduring gratitude, talent, commitment, will, and perseverance of the Gould faculty, staff, and students.
My wife, Dawn, and I are so very thankful for this opportunity. Along with our children, we are filled with joy and appreciation at the prospect of joining the Gould community. I want to thank Gould’s trustees for their faith and confidence in my abilities, and also for the incredibly supportive and talented faculty and staff and the good work they’ve done in keeping the school a healthy and vibrant place through challenging times. I would also like to acknowledge the stewardship of our previous heads of school, including recent head Chris Gorycki, who have worked tirelessly to shepherd Gould through the decades. I would like to especially thank Bill and Ki Clough, who led Gould during my time as a student and young faculty member. Bill and Ki set a standard for leadership and humanity that I have tried to emulate during my career, and it is with great humility that I take my place at this school in the seat that Bill once occupied.
With gratitude and anticipation of what is to come…
Tao Smith ’90
Head of School