This past Friday we hosted our annual reception for our major donors. These are individuals who last year stepped forward to help us in our Annual Fund campaign at a significant level. It is an opportunity to thank them in person and also enjoy a pleasant evening together. Such support benefits each and every child who attends Flint Hill. These are people who truly believe in the school’s vision and mission, and their example helps us create an even stronger culture of philanthropy as we move into the future.

During the evening I had a moment to remind everyone again, that our parent participation had jumped from 46% the year before to over 70% and that we had raised a record breaking $1.1 million. In addition to that great news, our Board of Trustees, the Parents Association, and our faculty and staff, had all participated in the campaign at 100%. Even our Alumni giving had risen five-fold. I also made an exciting announcement that I wanted you to be aware of as well. Our faculty and staff are on record, right now, at 100% participation already this year! This amazing step occurred just prior to the first Board of Trustees meeting on September 11. Their commitment in and outside of the classrooms is sincere, tangible, and inspiring to see.

After the remarks made by Skip Coston (Chairman of the Board), Til Hazel (Founding Chairman Emeritus of the Board) and myself, I was able to move around the room to thank people individually for their great support and contributions. In talking to some great set of parents, they made a statement that I could not get out of my mind. Prior to moving to this area several years ago, they lived in another city where their children attended a wonderful school that had a great national reputation. They had been strong contributors at that school for many years as well, but they noted that they never before had been thanked in such a fashion. They said that this evening really struck them as significant and a wonderful gesture on the part of the school.  To them, it was impressive that we had reached out to make sure they knew how much we appreciated their generosity and support.

As I reflect on that very simple and direct statement, it reminds me how much it means to hear those words “thank you.”  I know I have reported before, how one of the first true distinctions I experienced here at Flint Hill, was the fact that when our students leave a class at the end of a period, instead of saying good bye or just quietly walking out the door, many students make the point of calling out “thank you” to their teachers.  Even if you have just given them a test or a quiz, you will hear that “thank you” as students leave the room. This is a part of our culture that we should all be proud of and one that we want to nurture and support as we go forward. It is genuine and powerful. It is a positive and healthy reflection of the relationships that develop here and the warmth mutual respect that they represent.

So as this year gets under way, let me once again say “thank you” to all of you!  Thank you for having faith in us and having your children join us for this school year. Thank you for your willingness to participate, volunteer, attend games and concerts, and be an active participant in the school… just as your children are doing on a daily basis. Last week, you should have seen the energy at the “Day of Play” in the Lower School, or crowds cheering at various games as our fall sports teams charge ahead as proud Huskies! And if you could see our students speak up in towns meetings and in class discussions, you would share our pride and appreciation of their poise, energy, and drive. Their willingness to step up to help in the admission process as ambassadors and hosts, their offers to do community service and to be out of their comfort zones so often as part of their learning, leads us to say “thank you” once again for sharing them with us.

Saying “thank you” is important and I look forward to all of us appreciating the energy, the enthusiasm, the driving spirit, and above all the momentum that is such a part of our days here at Flint Hill. Thank you for continuing to make Flint Hill a priority in your lives.

One way you can also participate in this process is say a “thank you” to our great faculty and staff when you see them. These individuals have made education their life’s work… their calling. They are committed, professional, talented, and focus on your child and every child here. It is an amazing process to watch.  One way to say “thank you” is even to nominate teachers and staff members deserving of the “Driving Spirit Award.”  This is an annual award that goes to several members of our faculty and staff in recognition and appreciation of their Driving Spirit and their dedication to our school, to our students, and to school life. It is a “thank you” from the entire school family. Please send your nominations to Ana Yarbrough. Please send your nominations in by November 30.

There are great things ahead this year and the excitement and drive never ceases at Flint Hill. I look forward to seeing you soon as this school year seems to be racing by us. And again… thank you!  You and your children mean the world to us.