by Honor Taft, Head of School
The violent events at the nation’s capitol on Wednesday evening were a shock to all of us. At Friends School we teach our students the importance of being good community members. Our students learn to think critically, to see things from another’s perspective, and to honor different opinions while treating others with kindness and respect, always. In doing this, we teach our students about the meaning and power of democracy, they learn that they can and should take action and seek to make a difference, and to do so with empathy and compassion.
The last year has been challenging for our country and world with a pandemic as well as environmental uncertainties and social unrest. Our concern is for the health and healing of our country, our democracy, and for the wellbeing of our students. Some of our students may have seen the events unfolding on television. Talking about these events and the feelings that they ignite in age-appropriate ways, is important. We will continue to provide a safe place for our students to ask questions and express their concerns, and we will continue to offer comfort and stability in a world that has been increasingly confusing.
We encourage our parents to respond in ways that feel comfortable to you, with your child’s development in mind. Consider providing space for open discourse with your children if they come to you with questions. As adults, we can help process what is seen and heard, correct misinformation, and fill in the gaps with facts while creating safe spaces for conversation. While we may not be able to answer all of their questions, we can approach these conversations with curiosity, listen, and help them process their ideas and questions.
As we navigate these challenging times, I think once again of the strength of the Friends School community and I am filled with gratitude. That our children have the opportunity to to learn and grow as students and as human beings in this kind, caring environment and thoughtful community fills me with hope for what is possible. #FriendsTogether
Head of School
by Lucy Goldstein, Pre-K Parent at Friends School
Last week as a Pre-K west volunteer parent, I wrote a note of appreciation to the teachers for the month of September. To my surprise, they asked if I would share my thoughts with all of you. It was a note to say thank you, particularly as Harvest Week arrives because there is so much for which we can be grateful. Most importantly, the school has made it through September and part of October without a hitch! At least that is how the teachers, staff and administrators have made it seem from our side of the fence when we drop off our children. And while I do not see all of the labor that goes into keeping the school doors open, the teachers and staff have done a wonderful job of thinking outside of the box, continuing to be positive, and providing all of us an in-person school experience despite the personal hardships everyone is taking on. And that’s where my thoughts turn more serious too.
Every day while our children go to school, our whole country is still experiencing such unprecedented loss: loss of lives, loss of jobs, loss of the way we used to do things, loss of in-person schooling for the majority of our country’s children, loss of the simple things like being together unencumbered by worries of contagion, and on a macro level, loss of honest and dignified political leadership at the highest of levels and in every branch of government. Indeed, with each new week of news and an election around the corner, our spirits are being asked to re-examine who we are as a country. What should health, justice and equality look like for ourselves and those different from ourselves? At the same time, I also have an unextinguished hope that we will, as a more unified people, prevail. That with this degree of disruption and pain, the soil of our humanity is being tilled, and from that, new growth will occur.
Part of this new growth is, I believe, apparent in the way Friends School guides each child. Despite COVID-19, the injustice to black lives, RBGs death, fire ashes falling in the air as I write, our teachers still show up every day with a big smile, upbeat voice, and open arms engaging children in the most important of human skills: curiosity, presence, joy, learning to listen – not just to others, but to their own bodies and the elements around them, asking deep questions about kindness and what it looks like, giving children healthy language to play together and apart, teaching them to balance acceptance of others with self-advocacy. In truth, these are the most essential tools for us as humans because they help develop wisdom and compassion. They teach our children that despite our differences, each human and the nature around us has value – no matter where we are born, and no matter what color, gender or religion. And that is the real heart of the matter, making sure the next generation honors each other in a more thoughtful way than many of our current societal structures demonstrate.
In light of Harvest Week, I am grateful for the intention Friends School brings to every child. We are so fortunate to have such a caring and intelligent school community. And, on behalf of all of the parents, thank you, Friends, for a wonderful September and October in such challenging times. May we continue to reap the harvest of the teachers’ and staff’s thoughtful labor.
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