Congratulations! What a pleasure to launch the school year on campus, with music and balloons! As our youngest students arrived, I was deluged with memories of my own children’s first days of school. When my son Jack started Kindergarten, I worried mainly about what size backpack to order and how Jack would fare when no longer permitted to wear the bucket hat he wore every single day in preschool. Now Jack is a junior in high school, and I barely recognize him in photos from that time. I realized this morning I had lost my muscle memory for loosening the straps in young children’s car seats (thank you for the assist, Hildy!). Ironically, at the same time, I am trying to get used to strapping myself into a car my now-teenage son is driving!
We have become quite skilled in holding the “both/and” polarization these past 18 months, and it’s good practice for our unpredictable future: today’s smooth back-to-school on campus bodes well for a more “normal” year and I am awed by our children’s resilience and adaptability as they happily follow our protocols to keep themselves and our community members safe.
One constant, no matter the year, is our children’s excitement to return to school, to get to know their new teachers, to connect with friends, and to re-establish routines. Whether in preschool or middle school—or somewhere in between—inhabiting a world separate from home provides our children with rich fodder for the development of their identities and esteem. When children come to the dinner table with news from their independent lives, they foster a strong sense of self fueled by the telling of their unique stories.
Today was a blur of reconnecting with students: I greeted them at drop-off, visited with them during snack and lunch, observed a rousing game of freeze tag during Grade 1 PE class, chatted with Grade 8 students as they searched for a poster of civil rights activist John Lewis during their scavenger hunt, and greeted Mr. Lesser’s Grade 6 advisory group when they visited my office as part of their tour of the middle school. Middle school students wrestled with locker combinations (a rite of passage!), preschool students delighted in describing their snacks, and new students were warmly welcomed by peers.
Of course, these back-to-school activities, rituals, and routines—all designed by our magnificent teachers—lay the groundwork for a year filled with risk-taking, collaboration, and problem-solving. I want to extend my deep gratitude to our faculty for the incredible work they have done to prepare for the year ahead, which will have deep learning at its core. We couldn’t ask for a better team of educators, who flexibly implement systems and programs that provide structure (expectations our children can count on) and novelty (what’s unexpected in a positive way) to engage our students and to support their growth. This balance underscores our commitment to allow our children to live their lives as fully as they can.
I look forward to allowing some days to unfurl and flow rather than trying to control all the goings-on. Children teach us that being in the moment—despite the uncertainty around us—can be liberating and joyful. I relish my time with all your children this year.
Head of School