Dear Flint Hill School Families,
Last week we talked about listening and the power it can have if we truly open our minds and our hearts to hear what someone is saying. Recently, Director of Diversity and Inclusion Mia Burton and I joined members of our Board of Trustees Committee on Diversity and Inclusion as they met with several students. These are students who are hardworking, determined and absolutely engaged in the fabric of our school. But above all, they are wise beyond their years. They were honest, insightful and thoughtful as they shared their respect for the School and all that we are doing to ensure that every Flint Hill student has a place in our community. At the same time, they shared their thoughts on areas for growth for the School.
As our conversation continued that morning, I listened, and I began to take notes on some of the statements they shared. Their insightful comments could be applied to all of us. Some of their statements included:
- “We need to get comfortable being uncomfortable.”
- “At times I feel invisible and seen all at the same time.”
- “People only want to hear what they are saying. It is almost like they just want an echo.”
- “We are all the same on some level.”
- “Too often people just say, ‘No. You are wrong.’ And yet, I have always learned in improv class to continue a conversation with, ‘Yes and…'”
All in all, it was an incredibly powerful discussion, where we got to experience the thinking and hopes of some incredible students. We know that language and words can be powerful and can convey meanings well beyond what may have been said or the outcome that was expected. And it fully reinforced in me how important it is to listen with an open mind and an open heart. The Board Committee shared their experiences in beautiful and heartfelt terms that were as powerful as I have ever heard in an open Board session.
Looking ahead, we will have countless opportunities to “listen” to our students and for them to express themselves in a whole host of ways. This Saturday, April 7, at 2:00 pm., our students will participate in the annual TEDx Youth Day. Nearly 15 students are scheduled to give a TED Talk. There will be a lot to hear, reflect upon and learn, as these Huskies share their courage, confidence and compassion in these incredible talks. Please make plans to join us at the Upper School, for this exciting event.
April is also a month during which we celebrate our Fine Arts program, which sets the theme for the next few weeks of my newsletter post. Next Monday, April 9, is the opening of the Upper School Visual Art Show on the Upper School Campus. The artwork will be displayed for several weeks, and on Wednesday you will hear an account of what it’s like to participate in the event. A faculty member will write about nurturing budding artists after the Upper School Arts Awards Ceremony on April 18, and Director of Fine Arts Dr. Tim Mitchell will share his reflections on the annual Arts Jam Concert on April 25. This wonderful program is free and open to the public, and it is a show that Lower, Middle and Upper School families—students and parents alike—would enjoy. In fact, it is something that your neighbors and friends would appreciate as well.
Again, thank you for everything you do, for your commitment to our great school, determination, and willingness to be so engaged.
Best wishes to you!
John M. Thomas