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Brent Bell
Head of School

Brent was named Darlington's 11th head of school in 2014. With two decades of experience in education, he holds a B.A. in History from the University of Richmond and an M.S. in Education from Virginia Commonwealth University. Prior to his work here, Brent was head of Upper School at Randolph School in Huntsville, Ala. He also served previously as assistant headmaster and dean of academic affairs at Woodberry Forest School in Woodberry Forest, Va., where he held the E. Craig Wall Family Mastership. He and his wife, Andrea, have three children, Charlie ('22), Jack ('24) and Brent ('26).



Forward Ever Be Our Watchword

9/5/2017 2:38:00 PM, 549 views

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I have noted before that my favorite line of Darlington’s Alma Mater comes during the chorus....


“Forward ever be our watchword, conquer and prevail.”


According to Webster’s Dictionary, Watchword is defined as “a word or motto that embodies a principle or guide to action of an individual or group; a guiding principle.”  


For Darlington School, there is no question that the idea of moving forward is both a principle and a guide to action. Throughout the 112-year history of the school, we have always looked to the future to ensure that we are serving the best interests of the students who attend school here.   


I think about the word “forward” a lot. It is indeed a watchword for us. To kick off this school year, I created a list of words we connect with “forward.” I’ll share them with you now.


F fun

O open

R rigorous

W welcoming

A authentic

R resolute

D dedicated


Darlington is fun. We make positive assumptions about our attitude, effort and commitment to the mission of the school. If successful in the effort, we create a vibrant community that enjoys laughing together, growing together and learning together. In our meeting with new faculty during our first Late Start Wednesday, one person commented that he loved the “joyful” attitude toward the students’ learning. He liked that it was okay for learning to be “a little bit loud and a little bit fun.”


Darlington is open to new ideas and to different ways of doing things. There is no growth without change, and an open mind is imperative for us to move forward. One of my favorite aspects of Darlington is the combination of tradition and ambition that exists here. You must learn from the lessons of the past in order to move forward. At the same time, you cannot let a commitment to the status quo stunt your progress.  


Darlington is rigorous. We have high expectations for ourselves as a faculty and staff and high expectations for our students. Our mission says so: learn with PASSION, act with INTEGRITY, serve with RESPECT. These are weighty and important words and require that we ask more of ourselves than the average. Rigor requires positive relationships -- a community of trust that allows us to try, come up short, and be willing to try again. It also requires relevance; it is hard to try if what you are doing doesn’t have meaning. We are proud of the relevance of our programs and in knowing that stretching ourselves beyond what is known moves us forward.


Darlington is welcoming to people from all walks of life and different parts of the world. We welcome all who want to strive for something better, who want to be part of something bigger than themselves, and who want to serve the greater good.


Darlington is authentic. We rely on the voice of our students. We live in an uncertain world, whether it be the current political climate, but more significantly the unknowns of a world our students will lead into the future. We hear often that “the jobs they will have do not exist yet” and “it won’t be just about solving problems, but figuring out what the problems are.” To thrive in this world, we must be true to ourselves. Without authenticity, we lack the genuineness that that grounds us in a world of change.


Darlington is resolute. Darlington has been and continues to be resolute in its commitment to upholding the motto of the school -- wisdom more than knowledge, service beyond self, and honor above everything. We do this through a mission that calls us to empower students to learn with passion, act with integrity and serve with respect. As Thomas Jefferson said, “In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.” We stand by these principles of wisdom, service and honor.


Darlington is dedicated. Dedicated is the first word I would use to describe a member of the Darlington faculty or staff. The faculty and staff have been the heart and soul of the school for its entire history. Our first headmaster, James Ross McCain, taught every course the school offered. The school is named for Mr. Cooper’s favorite teacher, J. J. Darlington. This responsibility is one taken with the greatest sense of purpose by our faculty and staff. It is through their selfless dedication that our students find the compassion and confidence that make them confident contributors to the greater good.


Forward ever be our watchword, conquer and prevail.” To move forward, we need to strive to be a little bit better each day. These thoughts can help us on our road to living a life of wisdom, service and honor. If you have additional ideas, please share them in the comments section below!


The 2017-2018 school year promises to be a great one!

 

 



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