On Honesty, May 5, 2017

I come from a long line of educators in my family. My great grandfather Madison Sarratt was a math professor at Vanderbilt University, and he eventually served as Vanderbilt University Dean of Students. He was so respected and beloved by his students and colleagues that the current student center is named after him. His famous quote on honesty not only shaped the present-day honor code at Vanderbilt, but also engrained my belief that character and integrity are paramount to high test scores.  

Today I am going to give you two examinations, one in trigonometry and one in honesty. I hope you will pass them both, but if you must fail one, let it be trigonometry.” Madison Sarratt

I constantly reminded my students of the quote before a test and “to not ever sacrifice your integrity over a Spanish exam.” His legacy of character and honesty is a key piece of FBRA’s mission statement and continues to impress and influence not only the students at Vanderbilt University, but the students and staff, and the entire FBRA community.

Our mission is “to build character and integrity for a lifetime of learning and service.” We believe that one’s level of character and integrity will define their success and, more importantly, their happiness more than one’s ability to read complicated Spanish text or solve a complex algebraic equation. While recent FBRA graduates are gaining acceptance to the prestigious NC School of Science and Math (Deron Bakker ‘15) and are being awarded as Morehead-Cain scholars (Caleb Walker-Wilson ‘12), the unforgettable and character-building lessons learned while paddling a challenging whitewater rapid or the growth and confidence that result from performing on the stage of the Orange Peel in front of hundreds of people (insert photo here of OP concert?) are what define the FBRA experience and produce leaders that stand out from their peers.  

A parent of a recent graduate recently shared the following about their son’s experience at FBRA:

We saw a confidence emerge in him that we’d never seen before. This school developed strength of character, organizational skills, self-reliance, confidence in challenging and new situations, environmental stewardship and respect for teachers and school. Setting personal standards of excellence in these areas was expected, and he rose to that challenge. When he graduated in eighth grade, staff and fellow classmates considered him a leader with integrity who treated everyone with kindness. He transformed from a boy with tears in his eyes on the first day of sixth grade, to a mature, confident, young man who didn’t want to leave what he considered “the best school in the world.” The many lessons he learned during middle school positively shaped who he is today and remain inherent in him.

As our salamanders grow and follow their pursuits whether it be higher education, work, or travel, they will be equipped with the skills and tools to not only succeed, but to emerge as leaders committed to contributing to the betterment of society. We look forward to sharing their extraordinary stories in this publication, and please feel free to comment on this blog post in the space below.
Sincerely, Will Yeiser