I grew up in Bethesda, Maryland attending Walt Whitman High School, one of the best high schools in the country. I always knew I would teach, but I never imagined it would be at a private school as I was a strong believer in public education. But, I did teach at a private school, The Holton-Arms School, from 1983-1989. Holton was and remains a school that values women’s education and preparing students to be lifelong learners and young women of integrity.
Our faculty was well-respected in their fields and dedicated to educating the whole person. We did not turn a blind eye as Donald Trump, Jr. (who has never had any association with The Holton-Arms School) intimated. Rather, we were devoted educators who gave of our time and talents to raise young women of substance. I know how much free time I spent playing piano in play practices, writing college recommendations, or talking with students about their concerns. I knew students involved in music and drama personally and well. Faculty looked out for them not only as students but also as people facing life’s challenges.
As head of the music department at Holton, I learned about the importance of single-sex education in raising strong, capable young women at a time when women’s voices were still not valued. At Holton, girls were in all leadership positions, leaders in math and science classes, heads of all clubs. They learned to take pride in their work, and to lead with conviction and confidence.
I took my students to perform at President Bush’s inauguration as well as for the premiere performance of “America Sings!” on the Washington Mall. We took annual trips to perform in other communities along the East Coast, always including performances at nursing homes or benefit concerts. No matter where we were, these young women represented their school well. They did not disappoint.
To understand Holton, and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, one should understand the high value placed on the honor code. To summarize and simplify it, there was no lying, no stealing, no cheating. This honor code was drilled into the students every single year. Each year, they had to pass a content test on it in the beginning of the year.
A student-led honor council directly handled breaches of ethics and honors. Students who were elected to serve took the responsibility with all seriousness, helping each other to grow in ethical behavior. Speaking with former students I learned that they are not surprised that Dr. Blasey Ford felt bound to come forward with her story, to not commit a lie of omission. My former students understand the duty and obligation Dr. Ford felt to her country and to the truth. It is small wonder that they stand firm behind Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.
Dr. Nancy Theeman is a lifelong educator who holds a Ph.D. in musicology from University of Maryland and continues to teach music in Spring, Texas.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.