Confessions of an Overachieving Parent, Part I

By Matt Mitchell, Head of School

Having served in two independent schools and observed many more, I am convinced that there is no aspect of a K-12 educational institution that matters more than its culture. It influences how long a child’s innocence will be preserved, if a teenager will pursue dating in high school, a child’s view of authority and of the place of adults in their lives, the formation of morality and values, and even the degree to which a student will know Christ and His kingdom. Although a school cannot solely transform character or produce virtue, there is no doubt that it influences it.

I am very thankful to have my children at Dominion. I mean it genuinely when I say that the school’s culture (among both parents and students) is among the best I have seen. I am confident that my children are being afforded the best possible circumstances and opportunities to become men and women of godly character and purpose.

Yet, there are unique challenges to raising children in Northern Virginia. Many, actually most, Dominion parents do a fine job guarding their children from the overt and covert pressures of our region. Yet, it’s inevitable that our regional culture will spill into our households, churches, and schools. We must tend the culture of Dominion so that negative spillover does not occur. And, as a part of that, we must carefully consider an important question: When does the pursuit of excellence tip over into unreasonableness?

You need only invest an hour in my home to know that we don’t have this whole parenting thing figured out, but as I’ve raised my own children, I’ve often thanked God for the opportunity to serve as a school administrator. Although I’m still terribly inadequate, my experiences in education have made me a better dad than I could have been otherwise. I’m grateful for that. I’m also grateful that, when I fail, God’s grace is sufficient.

Through a series of blog posts in the coming months, I look forward to exploring some reflections from my career on safeguarding our children against an overachieving regional culture while preserving its benefits. In addition to diagnosing the concerns, I hope to offer some helpful observations and strategies. I invite you to join me on the journey as I share my own confessions as an overachieving parent.