The Seattle School community came together on a Monday evening last month for the State of the School address. The annual gathering is an opportunity for students, staff, and faculty to hear updates from the school’s president about changes, challenges, and opportunities facing The Seattle School, and to ask questions and share feedback.
“Since its creation, the State of the School address has always been a time for our president to respond to student body questions regarding the school’s direction and its context within culture,” says Rachel Hemperly, Student Council Facilitator.
This year was a bit different, though. With a new president who is still getting to know The Seattle School himself, Student Council and Anamchara—two realms of Student Leadership—decided to organize a less formal gathering for students to get to know Dr. Craig Detweiler. “In true Seattle School fashion Student Leadership opted to welcome Craig into our community with a home-cooked feast from all of our students,” says Megan Doner, Anamchara Facilitator, who hosted a Q&A with Dr. Detweiler. “It was lovely to get to know Craig and to hear what he sees in the The Seattle School’s community.”
As students, staff, and faculty gathered over chili and other shared food, Dr. Detweiler shared about his background—complete with childhood pictures we promised not to share—and about how early encounters with particular films raised big, important questions that changed the trajectory of his life. Those experiences instilled in him a passion for telling stories and for exploring how “unlikely and even profane things can speak spiritual truths,” he said. As he honed his craft as a filmmaker over the years, Dr. Detweiler continued to study and write about how integrating storytelling and spirituality might help us steward the story of God in new and beautiful ways.
Dr. Detweiler shared how that background—plus his work mentoring students and aspiring filmmakers—has uniquely shaped who he is today and how he is approaching this work. He admitted that stepping into the role of president was a bit of a curveball that surprised some people (himself included), but there was a palpable energy in the room as he reflected on his excitement and intrigue about how The Seattle School equips people to address cultural fragmentation, technological dissonance, and spiritual ennui in profound and necessary ways.
“I’m here wanting to affirm who you are and help tell your story,” Dr. Detweiler told those gathered. “Your emphasis on health and sustainability is countercultural. As other people are speeding up along the surface, you’re helping people slow down and go deeper. And my job is to tell the story that I see unfolding here.”
As students posed questions—both serious and playful—Craig also bounced those questions back into the room. He’s getting to know the personality and ethos of The Seattle School, he said, as much as we’re getting to know him. That journey of knowing will continue on March 9 at the official inauguration, as we formally install Dr. Detweiler as president and mark this important transition in the story of The Seattle School. Faculty, staff, students, alumni, colleagues, neighbors—you’re all invited to join us.