Malcolm Lester NPS Head of School Reading a Book

The school year is coming to a close, which means this will be my last Head of School blog until the fall. Thank you for your comments, ideas, and questions throughout the year. Here we go, with one final "Power of Three" for 2018-2019!

I recently received a suggestion - "Why don't we ask NPS families to take pictures of the students wearing their red NPS50 shirts over the summer and send them in?" 

Wait, do you know that this is the 50th year at NPS?! (I suspect that you do know…)

I thought it was a great idea, so here is my ask: to keep the NPS 50th spirit alive, you are invited to snap a photo of your child in his/her NPS50 shirt having fun this summer and then email it to me at It will be a way to stay connected over the summer, maintain NPS and 50th year pride, and to continue wearing those stylish shirts!

We'll see where we end up with this, and perhaps I'll post the NPS50 photos on a bulletin board outside my office. I look forward to seeing your submissions!

P.S. Thank you, Mrs. Hancock, for the suggestion!

One of the many benefits of our Nursery—6th grade school is that our students are provided with wonderful leadership opportunities, some of which they might not have if they were at a school that served other grade ranges. With 5th and 6th Grades serving as our oldest, these students are the leaders of the school and act as such in formal and informal ways.

A shining example of this is Student Council, which is open to all 5th and 6th grade students (and 6th graders also have an opportunity to serve as Core Cardinals, described as "the leaders of the leaders" at NPS). This year, 25 5th and 6th Graders participated in Student Council, meeting weekly during lunch and recess time, and serving on the following committees: Garden Group (overseen by Mrs. Glass), Small Changes (Mr. Nolan), Service Learning (Reverend Dunfee), and two Playground Groups (Mrs. Rusan and Ms. Mazie).

Earlier this year, five Student Council members who serve on one of the Playground Groups wrote me a well-crafted proposal, which kindly asked about the "possibility of a water fountain in the vicinity of the field."  I had lunch with the five 5th and 6th graders to discuss their one-page proposal, hear more about their ideas, and ask them questions.

After lunch, we walked out to the field to discuss where a water fountain would possibly go. What an impressive, persuasive, and respectful group! And I know they are emblematic of their peers on other Student Council groups.

I let the students know that I was impressed with their proposal and would look into the feasibility of installing a new water fountain. I thanked them for their suggested initiative and their time (it was fun having lunch with them!) and told them I would be back in touch.

As a result of the advocacy of the NPS Student Council, I am happy to report that a new water fountain will be installed out back, by the athletic field, next week. Thank you, NPS Student Council! 

This blog will end where it began back in the fall: by talking about summer reading. In September, I shared some titles I had read over the summer, including our faculty and community summer book, as well as books I hoped to read. That generated many suggestions from readers, for which I am grateful.  I have read some of those books and have others on my summer 2019 reading list.

I'm pleased to share the summer 2019 NPS faculty/staff summer book, which we encourage NPS parents to read as well. Typically, we begin our faculty meetings in late August discussing the summer reading book and explore ways it can undergird our work in the year ahead. As a reminder, the Summer 2018 read was The Self-Driven Child by Bill Stixrud and Ned Johnson, which was a big hit and had applicability for educators as well as NPS parents. We were even fortunate to have the authors speak at NPS in January and then Dr. Stixrud attended a faculty meeting to share insights with our teachers.

Our summer 2019 book is The Person You Mean To Be by Dolly Chugh. While published only recently (2018), it has quickly become a popular book that has generated rave reviews. Thank you to Director of Studies Tara Montague for suggesting this thought-provoking book. 

The author, Dolly Chugh, has been described as "a Harvard-educated, award-winning social psychologist at the NYU Stern School of Business, where she is an expert in the unconscious biases and unethical behavior of ordinary, good people. In her real life, she is trying just as hard as everyone else to be the person she means to be."

I hope that many of our NPS parents will read The Person You Mean To Be this summer so that we can have generative discussions next year with parents as well as faculty.

My best to you, your children, and your families for a fantastic summer. Thank you for reading, and thank you for all of your responses—and please don't forget to share your NPS50 photos with me!

Contact Malcolm Lester
Phone: 202-537-7545
Twitter: @NPSHeadofSchool

Head of School Malcolm Lester Reading
  • Head of School
  • Homepage

More Stories