Gray Matters, October 2022
Back to School Night Reflection
As I shared with my colleagues at our opening staff meeting, whenever I start a new book, I am drawn to the back and always read the acknowledgments first. Before I start reading I love to see how the author expresses gratitude and who they choose to thank.
In the spirit of my book reading routine, I want to share several appreciations:
- The Capitol Hill Day School faculty: I am continually impressed by the dedication and expertise of our educators. They are incredibly thoughtful, committed, and creative. You experienced that over Back to School Nights this past week in your interactions with our teachers. I am truly blessed to work with each and every one of my wonderful colleagues.
- Your children: They keep us on our toes and motivate us every day. They are eager, engaged, and curious learners and are kind and generous of spirit. The privilege of my job is that any time I need a break, a pick me up, some inspiration, I head out of my office and wander into any classroom in our School. Your children make me laugh and think; they are simply a joy to teach.
- All of you: As parents, thank you for entrusting your children to our care. As many of you know, I have three children of my own. I deeply appreciate what it feels like to release your children to the care of others. Educators thrive off the trust we receive from our families. It is an honor to educate your children, we are grateful for your partnership.
This summer I read the book The Importance of Being Little, by Erika Christakis. The essence of the book is captured in this quote:
“It’s really very simple: young children need to know and to be known. For this to happen, they need a learning habitat that allows them to have a relationship with someone who truly understands them.”
While the book is primarily about early childhood education, this quote and the thesis of the book applies to all of the students at Capitol Hill Day School. All of whom, whether they are 4 or 14, are “young children.” Furthermore, we could replace the phrase “young children'' with the word “adults” and the quote would still have just as much relevance. We all thrive off the relationships we have with others.
This year we are emphasizing connectedness because we know that it is the foundation on which all learning happens. How learners feel about themselves, others, and the content with which they engage, is unequivocally important. Empirical evidence clearly demonstrates both the social-emotional and cognitive benefits of connection.
As a school it is inevitable that we will experience moments of joy and conflict. We transcend these disparate elements by continuing to deepen our commitment to relational and integrated pedagogy and curriculum; and by putting children and community at the center of our decision making. Because joy and conflict are inevitable, it is essential that we all continue to create an environment that encourages wonder, play, vulnerability, intentionality, problem solving, and critical thinking. Aspects that I believe are at the heart of connectedness.
I want to go back to my children for a moment. Mine are now, 17, 19, and 21. All three started at Capitol Hill Day School in early childhood and graduated as 8th Graders. Last week I had my last back-to-school night as a parent. My feelings in this period of parenting are very bittersweet. It is difficult to release children to the care of others, but it has been even more emotional to realize that I am now releasing my children to the care of themselves. I am extremely proud of who my children are becoming, and as I look back over time, I can say with confidence that I owe this school and this community a significant amount of gratitude.
Thank you for sharing your children with us and for your enduring support. Our year is off to a fabulous start because of this fantastic community.