ACCORD Summer 2015 - page 4-5

Formany years,my family and I vacationed at theOuter Banksof NorthCarolina.Mywife,Maureen,
hadvacationed theresinceshewasachild, so itwasonlynatural thatwewould takeourchildren there
aswell. Although it hasbecomequite abitmorepopular andpopulated in recent years, it still retains
muchof thecharm it hadwhen I first visited there38yearsago.
Themainattraction is,ofcourse, thewonderfulAtlanticbeaches thatstretch formiles,butan important
part of the area’s allure concerns several visits in the early 20th centurymade by two young bicycle
makers fromDayton, Ohio—Wilbur andOrvilleWright. OnDecember 17, 1903, theWright brothers
took flight for the first time fromKill Devil Hill in the townof KittyHawk. Thesite,which I havevisited
numerous times, is about a half-mile from the cottage inwhichwe vacationed formany years. As a
result, I have longbeen fascinatedby theWright brothers’ story.
That interest peaked recentlyby thepublicationof historianDavidMcCullough’snewbiography, “The
Wright Brothers.” The story isoneof truegenius. TheWrightshadno formal educationbeyondhigh
school,nordidanyof thepeopleworkingwith them.Yet, theywereable toaccomplishwhatotherwell-
funded, highly educated groupswere not—to fly amechanically powered, heavier-than-airmachine
and land it safely, not oncebutmultiple times.
For years, historians, aeronautical engineersandaviationbuffshave researchedanddebatedwhy the
Wrights were successful where somany others failed. There are a variety of reasons for this, but I
recently read awonderful book called “StartWithWhy” bySimonSinek that providesuswithwhat I
think isaspot-on reason for their success.
According toSinek, theWrights enjoyednoneof the advantagesof some of their competition. There
were no government grants and no high-level connections. They funded their work through the
proceedsof their bicycle shop. Theywerenot thatmuchdifferent from all theothers trying tobuild a
flyingmachine, but theyhadsomethingspecial—theyhadadream.
They knewWHY it was important tobuild this thing. They believed that if they could figure
out this flyingmachine, it could change theworld. They imagined the benefits to everyone
else if theyweresuccessful.
Sinekclaimsunderstanding theWHY iswhatset theWrightbrothersapart.Thegeniusofgreat leaders
and great organizations is that they are good at seeingwhat most people cannot. They are good at
givingus things forwhichwewouldnever think toask.AsHenryFordsaid, “If Ihadaskedpeoplewhat
theywanted, theywouldhavesaida faster horse.”
So what is the implication of all this for the Academy? What is the Academy’s WHY? We are an
excellent school that providesboys andgirls in the elementary school and youngwomen in thehigh
school a top-flight education. That’sWHATwedo, butmanyschoolscanmake thesameclaim.What
sets the Academy apart is the vision that created and still permeates this school—the vision of the
Sisters of the Holy Names. The Academy’s vision is the public statement of the Sisters’ intent, “to
challenge itsgraduates tobeglobally aware, lifelong learnerswhowill serveotherswith integrity and
compassionasstewardsof themissionof theSistersof theHolyNames.” That iswhy theAcademy
exists. Our mission statement—to develop the spiritual, academic, personal and physical growth
of each student in an atmosphere of care and concern—is a description of the route, our guiding
principles. It is adescriptionof HOWwe put ourWHY intopractice. For like theWright brothers, the
TheyknewWHY itwas important tobuild theirschools.Theybelieved if theycould figureout
how tooffer a rigorous, comprehensiveandwell-roundedCatholiceducation togenerations
of students, they could change the world. They imagined the benefits to everyone if they
The task for all of usworkingat theAcademy today is tounderstandandkeep theSisters’WHY firmly
within our sight. We endeavor to fulfill the Sisters’ vision by offering a progressive, 21st century
education inacaringenvironment toall ourstudents.Toprovide them thewherewithal toembrace the
visionand live themission in thesechallenging times—toenable them tochange theworld.
ArthurRaimo, President
Office of the
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