Welcome Message from Mr. Gressock
As I write this first post to the Families of Covington Latin School I cannot begin to express my feelings of appreciation, honor, and pride to be part of an educational institution with such an outstanding tradition.
Allow me to introduce myself. I am Joseph E. Gressock the new Headmaster of Covington Latin School. Educating young people has been my life’s work for almost 4 decades. Biology, theology, accounting, and economics are some of the classes I taught. In addition to teaching, I have coached varsity football (35+years), freshmen baseball (25+years), and CYO basketball (6 years). I refereed basketball and umpired baseball. I spent most of my summers at colleges and universities taking classes and attending lectures. Schools I have attended are John Carroll University, University of Dayton, University of Notre Dame, and Ursuline College to name a few.
The vast majority of my experience as a student, teacher, and principal was honed at Benedictine High School, in Cleveland, Ohio. A Benedictine education is based on the Benedictine wisdom tradition that sets as its goal the transformation of the human mind and heart. It is from this tradition that a part of my vision for Covington Latin has its origins.
The Prologue of St. Benedict’s Rule begins, “Listen with the ear of your heart.” Education is about communicating knowledge and wisdom, but it should begin with the teacher listening to students to understand where they are as learners and individuals. From this launch point, relationships can grow and learning can take place on both sides.
One of the hallmarks of a Benedictine education is Hospitality. The Rule states “Let all guests who present themselves be welcomed as Christ.” Classrooms must be warm welcoming environments for students and teachers must greet their students in a friendly and caring manner. Great teachers know that learning can be challenging and in some cases uncomfortable. To use a phrase mostly used related to technology, another way of thinking about teachers as demonstrating hospitality is for them to become “user-friendly.”
Do I want to turn Covington Latin into a Benedictine school? Not a chance. The traditions of Latin School run deep and are rooted in the basis that academic ability should determine a student’s grade level, not merely age. However, I would not be surprised that some of the best teachers are unintentionally Benedictines. Especially if developing relationships with students while listening and warmly welcoming them into their classrooms is part of their tradition.