Dear Flint Hill School Families,
Once again this summer, I gained a renewed admiration, respect and appreciation for all you do as parents. Each summer, and for nearly a decade now, my wife Emily and I host a camp we affectionately call “Camp Oma and Opa” at our home here in Virginia. It is a special time that we get with our grandchildren since they live in California and New York. And even though Skype and FaceTime are wonderful inventions, there is nothing like the warmth of a real hug and the ability to hold hands as we head off to visit a museum, go to the playground or just take a walk. It is fun for us, special for them (we hope), and a well-deserved break for their parents. In our “camp,” we plan daily trips, share plenty of meals together, read lots of books, play games together, and allow plenty of time just to get to know each other. Our grandchildren range in age now from 5-12 (going on 13 as we were reminded several times), including a set of twins. The two oldest youngsters came for one week, and the twins came for a separate week. We built some very special memories that will last for years to come, but these experiences constantly reminded us of how difficult and yet rewarding parenting is. Over time, it is easy to forget the effort it takes to do everything you do, from the constant need for organization and structure to demands of constantly being present, engaged and available to your children. And let’s not forget the toll it can take on our energy and egos.
During the time I spent with my grandchildren this summer, I thought about the lessons I could learn that could translate back to life here at school for our parents. Several things really hit me, and they have to do with the necessity for planning and its impact on parenting in general. They also have to do with us getting back to the start of another successful school year, regardless of your child’s age. Very simply, they are:
- Planning is key. You need facts to plan. So please use this newsletter, read what the Division Directors have to say, and all the additional news items that are shared by the school over the course of the year. Read what teachers will soon share on Husky Hub and use the school calendar that was mailed to you last month. It is full of important dates for the entire year. Look at the website for game schedules and concerts. Put things on your home calendar that will help you map out the year, month, week or day. Look ahead constantly. Creating a structure and planning are critical components in a dynamic organization like ours.
- Engage. Please take an active role in our wonderful school. Plan to attend Back-to-School Nights, attend the Parent Discussion Series that I offer, the College Counseling or Division Directors’ coffees… you name it. We all know that time is valuable, and at Flint Hill, we schedule a lot of events. We recognize that families can’t attend everything, but the more involved you are, the more you will feel connected to our school family. Please encourage your children to engage as well. Flint Hill, like growing up, is not a spectator sport; it is a hands on, active and dynamic experience if you truly want to enjoy its benefits.
- Keep it all in perspective. Value the journey of life—the cheers, excitement, accomplishments, and even the occasional tears of disappointment and defeat. Life is constant, and it is full of surprises. Sometimes, things will go just as planned and expected, but they may also go in an entirely unexpected way. Take time at the end of the day to jot down some of the things that have happened. It is amazing how, as you look back over those notes, you can almost recognize the pivotal moments in the lives of your children. You will begin to notice their grit and resilience, and you will gain a healthy perspective on who they are becoming as people. And as we all know, that process happens far too quickly.
Things are gearing up fast here at school! New faculty have been here this week and are beginning to become very much a part of our school culture. Next week, all of our faculty will return to campus, and we will begin to engage in a great deal of professional development, making certain that the new year gets off to a successful and positive start. If there is anything we can ever do to assist you over these next few weeks, please do not hesitate to call on us. I look forward to talking to you, seeing you all soon, and all of us working to make the 2017-2018 school year the very best ever.
Best wishes to you!
John M. Thomas