I have been thinking about the take-aways during this time of COVID-19. Among the things this pandemic has revealed is that a society that is dependent on an economy that only works for some and, even then, only when it is constantly expanding, is not sustainable into perpetuity... While physical growth is finite, our capacity to understand (continuing revelation!) is not. Even now. Especially now.
As Head of School, I wanted to give everyone a little peek under the tent of what we have been up to since we began working from home. Folks in real estate say that the three most important attributes for a property to sell is location, location, location. My take on that is that the three most important attributes for the school to run like a top is communication, communication, communication. We have a lot of constituents, and there is a lot of communication called for.
Over the next several weeks, we may feel we have moved from participating in a drill to being part of something that we are not in control of... Preparing for this next stage, we can take some solace in knowing that it is the one that we must complete in order to move on to the next one which is the one where the risk begins to decline, and we can begin to plan for our lives to return to normal.
But first, we have the tough climbing which calls for us not only to alter our daily schedule, limit our trips to the store, check in with siblings and college roommates, and wipe down commonly-used surfaces. We also find that living through a pandemic alters some of the most basic ideas we have about who we are, what we value and, even, how we define a life well lived. There can be some significant upside to this part of it. Read more...
Head of School Tom Gibian writes about the importance of connectivity, resilience, and creativity in his message to Upper School students: "As we practice social distancing, intentionally staying apart, becoming even more involved with our digital devices, we are noticing how much we miss each other. Connecting and staying connected are not just nice things; we are genetically wired to be together, to support one another, to hold hands, to have each other's backs, to be in touch (literally)." Read more...
Most SSFS community members will know that SSFS undertook a diversity audit in the spring of 2019, leading to the creation of a comprehensive report to the school community and the formulation of a diversity audit Action Plan. The action items are listed in the report, linked above. This blog post seeks to update the school community on the work done over the past few months in response to the action items.
I thought that we could begin the evening with my offering some comments, and then go into questions and answers.
Let’s begin by unpacking the following assertion: “Sandy Spring Friends School will change the world.” Or we can start with an equally audacious statement: “We are here to help our kids acquire the tools necessary to lead lives of meaning such that they make substantive contributions to civil society, model dignity, and experience wonder and beauty.”
Today marks the 25th anniversary of the day of service. This is one of thousands of events across the country honoring the memory of Dr. King. So let me ask, why do we celebrate Dr King? Why is he one of the greatest Americans that ever lived? Where did some of his ideas come from and what have we learned from his example?
Dr King was a minister and an activist. He was really, really good at both of those jobs. The reason he is famous today is that he had a vision that changed the world. He never stopped believing that we can all be members of the same beloved community.
He modeled courage by speaking “truth to power” expressing a boundless faith in humanity’s unrealized potential. He saw a world where children would not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
There is so much to love about this time of year. Here are a few of my favorites.
Hot chocolate. Even better with marshmallows floating on top. Older brothers and sisters coming home for the holidays. My kids coming home for the holidays. Twinkly lights. A radio station that only plays Christmas songs. Ok, I listen to NPR but it’s still nice to know.
I also love that going to a Chinese Restaurant on Christmas can be a family tradition. And if we go someplace new during the Winter break, we use our Qibla compass to find the proper direction to pray. And at work we have secret Santa games. And at home we have dreidels. And we bundle up to go outside even when it is freezing to sing Christmas carols or to go to Midnight Mass.
When I was named Head of School in 2010, Ken Smith, my predecessor, told me (not for the first time) that it was the best job in the world.
He was right.
I would like to extend a warm welcome to everyone: faculty and staff, seniors, their buddies, all of the other students and any parents who have snuck in. (There are always a few.) My welcome goes to all of us who are glad to be back and, especially, those of us who are attending our first All-School Assembly. This is where are traditions are on display, our enthusiasm is evident and where we celebrate those of us who actually enjoy singing and dancing in front of a big crowd wowing us with how they make and share beauty....
[W]e are here for two vital things. One is to learn and to learn how to learn. The other is to connect; with each other and all those around you.