Welcome from the Head of School

Thoughts on this year's change maker theme, "The Power of One": 

Individuals have the power to drive change and inspire others to strive for better. This is what we think of when we conceptualize “The Power of One.” I have lived long enough now to know it’s a bit more complex and from experience, I believe if the change the power of one wants is to last, it needs more than one individual’s involvement. 

One person’s power must also inspire and lead others who share the same unwavering commitment to a cause or a movement. That person will need monumental reserves of patience and perseverance. Change happens day by day, week by week, one thought, one choice, one conversation at a time. There are always - I mean always - problems and detours along the way. Having the strength to endure despite knowing that the change you’re championing may not be achieved within your lifetime is fundamental. This is what we mean by having a “noble goal.”

Former Synapse change makers also understood that to have any power to enact meaningful change, you need the ability to think and act strategically. Individuals who bring about real change will be those who recognize that they need to work deliberately with others to create alliances, bridge differences, and inspire solutions that offer mutual benefit. Change makers have an obligation to educate those who resist, are willing to give the benefit of the doubt, call others in, not out, and are understanding of counterpoints and others’ views. 

Our former Synapse change makers understood this very clearly. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg recognized that sometimes the best way to advance women’s rights was by making the case for men, and their right to equal treatment under the law. Archbishop Desmond Tutu was the chairman of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, designed to help the country come to terms with their extremely troubled past. He taught that to forgive is not just to be altruistic. It is the best form of self-interest. 

Why? Because change making can’t be done alone. The ability to connect with others and bring them along with you will be essential. RBG famously said: “Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” This is precisely what this year’s change maker, Judy Heumann, understood:

“Change never happens at the pace we think it should. It happens over years of people joining together, strategizing, sharing, and pulling all the levers they possibly can. Gradually, excruciatingly slowly, things start to happen, and then suddenly, seemingly out of the blue, something will tip.”

This school year, our theme is The Power of One. Let’s remember, change begins with one, yet it can only continue with the power of many.



Jim Eagen
Head of School
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