August 24, 2017

Dear Flint Hill School Families,

Do you ever wonder about how important our senses are and how much they guide our behavior? Their impact is profound. We all know how hard it is when our hearing isn’t as strong as it used to be or when we discover we need glasses. Piaget, a Swiss psychologist, noted nearly a century ago that our sensory-motor development is based on touch, feel, sight, smell and taste. Those senses are the start of our intellectual development. We can see that with young children. It starts with looking at things hanging across from their cribs. We buy them toys that are bright and loud to stimulate their thinking. They love to squeeze things that make noises, begin to recognize faces and, occasionally, offer a smile. They react visibly when they try foods they don’t like and delight in exploring their own fingers and toes.

The senses also come into play throughout the summer. We all recognize the smell of food on the grill, the scent of rain in the air that may soon be upon us, or the sound of water either splashing onto the beach or at a pool. We also hear the crickets and cicadas up in the trees and the sound of thunder rolling across the sky. Summer is a feast for the senses.

As we know all too well, school is right upon us, and the sounds of kids has returned to our hallways and fields. This week, many of our preseason fall sports practices got underway. You can hear laughter, shouting and coaches’ whistles. You can hear the sounds of tennis balls hitting the courts, and soon you will hear the sounds of cheers from our sidelines and stands and the sound of music coming from our music rooms. You will also see the sight of carpool lines and yellow buses taking children to and from our campuses.

Sometimes the use of our senses are more subtle. They may involve being heard or seen. Many of our parents completed the Parents’ Surveys that were shared at the end of last year, and we heard your thoughts and your comments. Every year, we take that feedback from our parent community very seriously and use it to drive our actions as we enter the next school year. In fact, last night’s tremendous Fall Digital Education Series event is an example; that program was developed in response to parent feedback and the thoughtful leadership of our Counseling and Technology Integration staff. Last night’s presentations were made by faculty and staff, and a guest speaker is scheduled for October 5, followed by the November coffees. We heard you, and we responded!

I will also soon begin the annual Headmaster’s Parent Discussion Series. The series begins next Friday, September 2, for the Lower School. It will be followed by an event on Thursday, September 8, for the Upper School, and will conclude on Wednesday, September 14, for the Middle School. In those sessions, I plan to talk directly with parents. This is simply another effort to communicate with transparency and clarity to questions raised about full school issues and items pertaining to those specific divisions. Why do we what we do, and how do we do it? What can you expect as a parent? Your sense of being a part of the school is important to us. I want you to “see, feel, and hear” exactly what is going on. I am a firm believer that as parents, our number one obligation is to get our children educated. At Flint Hill, we are thrilled that you have partnered with us in that process. We have an enormous obligation to make it happen and happen appropriately.

So be alert to those messages that your senses send you. Listen to the start of the school year as much as you watch it unfold or experience it. Make it a full sensory opportunity.

Please join us at the upcoming coffees and back-to-school nights. If we can be helpful in any way further, please do not hesitate to call on us.

Sincerely,

John M. Thomas
Headmaster