Dear Lower School Friends,
Our 2018-2019 school year is over! The PK3 – Grade 5 students had an action-packed year filled with many challenges and adventures. Our Moving On Day program, Come Out of Your Shell, was a wonderful tribute to the astounding growth and progress made by every student this year. Curiosity took us on a learning journey that took many detours. We learned that experimenting, failing and trying again actually pay off. Practice makes progress; and every member of our community experienced progress during our 2018-2019 journey.
As I leave Sandy Spring Friends School and make my transition to the Plymouth Meeting Friends School community as Head of School, please know that I hold this wonderful SSFS community in my heart and will always treasure the time that I spent in the company of the youngest friends on campus. They each have a Light that, if nurtured and kindled, will surely change the world! Once again, I share my remarks from our 2019 Moving On Day program:
In my eight years at SSFS, I’ve actively avoided waxing philosophical with a captive audience. I have clear memories of my elementary school principal—Sister Margaret St. John—pontificating endlessly on the last day of school while we sat stock still —little hostages in those itchy plaid uniforms on hard Catholic school wooden pews. My goal here has always been to keep the focus on what’s important: our students. And yet, here I am “speechifying” on the last day. So I will make it quick:
It would be absolutely presumptuous of me to take credit for the talents and successes of the amazing faculty, staff and administrators in the Lower School. It has been my honor and my responsibility to provide support, and resources, and to sustain them in their work. (Sometimes, this took the form of an old-fashioned southern banana pudding.) This is a hard-working group of professionals, whose experiences and expertise spans hundreds of years. They take their work very seriously; yet they don’t take themselves too seriously. They are passionate and smart and they thrive on caffeine, chocolate, appreciation and praise. It is absolutely not debatable that their work is what makes this Lower School the best division of Sandy Spring Friends School. Friends, I thank you for your dedication, patience, sense of humor and tender care of the Lower School students and of me.
I also want to thank the critically important and yet sometimes invisible members of our community whose hard work and devotion keep Sandy Spring alive and thriving every day. Thank you to the administrative support staff, nurses, facilities and maintenance crew, dining hall staff, cleaning staff and KAH friends.
Over the years, many of us have had the conversation at the table in my office about the fact that parenting books lie. They leave a lot of crucial information out. Here’s the deal: you will never have enough time; never have enough energy; never have enough money; never have enough love and, frankly, you will never get enough sleep. Thank you parents and families for sharing this journey with us. None of us could take this journey alone. Thank you for your patience and your understanding. Thank you for knowing that when I speak strongly and speak my mind, I speak for them (students). Thank you for your trust and your partnership.
As I go, I leave you with my “Letterman” Lower School Top Ten:
10. Parenting is no sport for perfectionists. There is no manual. We have to learn as we go.
9. Focus on the Light. Sometimes it can be hard to see. It’s there. Turn around, look down; squint if you have to!
8. When you have to choose between being kind or being right, being cool or being seen, choose kind.
7. Let someone else have the last word. Be humble; sit down.
6. It’s never been about the big people. It’s about the “littles”.
5. If you forget to laugh, you forget to love and you forget to live. Bobby McFerrin put it best: “Don’t worry, be happy”.
4. Know that your true self is always enough. Just do you.
3. Choose joy. It’s a higher love on a higher ground.
2. Let your life speak, and
1. Always, always remember: USE THE CROSSWALK!
Be well and walk in the Light, Friends. Have a wonderful summer!
In appreciation and peace,