The days leading to the first week of school are often a whirlwind (in this year’s case, a Typhoon signal 10 and 8 within a week to be exact) and usually so is the first week. But this year’s been a little different. For sure, the week’s been fraught with the usual back to school frenzy - fine tuning bus and dismissal protocols, navigating uniform supply delays, calibration of staff understanding of new protocols and so on. But this year more than any other, it’s felt like a dance in the park because those are easy fixes.
The toughest one has already been solved - we are all pretty much on the same page.
Having spent the last couple of weeks getting to know new colleagues and becoming better acquainted with those returning, I’ve felt very humbled by their dedication to their craft. Anywhere you wander in our campuses, whether Village, Garden or Grove, you pick up on the nuances - the careful choices they’ve made to phrase positively, to plan progressively, to work inclusively. You can see it in the reading corners they’ve created, the octopus tentacles they’ve painted, the cottage names they’ve concocted. In the name of orchestrating cozy learning spaces, they’ve procured plants and pets, sourced carpets and sofas, strung canopies and made lanterns, carried tables back and forth, propped up books and placed stuffed animals, considering all the while about what will make school home for kids. One teaching team even coordinated their outfits (ahem, Air team all decked in blue) at Meet and Greet. If that’s not Pinterest obsession-worthy, I don’t know what is. Each spark makes for a palpable vibe, zinging with ingenuity and inspiration.
There is an undeniable sense of humming in unison. After just four days into the school year, I’ve already received emails from teachers reflecting on their practice, heard from teachers about new things they’re excited to try (Band!) and old things they’re excited to keep (THS Sports Center!) and received an invitation to join a book and thought club sent by two teachers to all staff in an effort to intellectually gel together. If we were birds in migration formation, the last week has had me hanging at the end on occasion with someone else as the lead bird, delighted to know I’ll wake up invigorated at the right destination.
And it’s not just me. Students are feeling it too.
At Harbour Village and The Grove, it is perhaps not surprising to see and feel excitement - moving into shiny new spaces feels like Christmas (or Google HQ, as one child likened the Grove). But at the Garden, where it’s the same bright place with no tougher crowd than teenagers, there is an unmistakably calm and collegiate rapport between students and teachers. Whether it’s 9th Grade literature or AP English, Biology I or Film studies, it seems even the kids are pleasantly astonished about how quickly they’ve settled into motivated and earnest industry. And that’s with last year’s furniture but this year’s teachers.
For the first time I honestly feel I am not amongst people whom we’ve had to dunk, I mean, have drunk from the Kool-Aid. I feel I am walking amongst fellow Kool-Aid makers. And in my 9th year at THS, that’s as fortunate as finding a hundred needles in a world of haystacks.
So I’m feeling incredibly flush about the year and actually, I’m going to take back what I said. This year we’re not just on the same page. One child at a time, we’re composing this masterpiece together. --------
Next blog inspo-
It’s true what they say, that we need room to grow.
In planting, in parenting, in schooling a little extra space becomes the difference between simply increasing in size to taking on all the goldening qualities we associate with maturing.