The Power of Words

Dear Flint Hill Families,

Every day, I am reminded of the importance of words in our world today. Most recently, I witnessed it during our Strategic Planning Retreat. On Thursday afternoon and all day Friday, 90 members of our School family — current and past parents, alumni, faculty, staff and trustees — gathered to discuss the path forward for our School. We shared our ideas, reflected on the state of the School and exchanged powerful stories about our experiences at Flint Hill. Words like “relationships,” “support,” “community” and “family” were used to describe our School. “Confident,” “poised,” “empathetic” and “prepared” were used to describe our students and graduates.

The collaboration, dedication and thoughtful discussion among the attendees was tremendous. As an outcome of the two-day meeting, the group was able to identify key themes that will drive the School’s long-term vision, and our strategic priorities for the next several years. Thank you to all of you who have participated in this process thus far and to the members of our community who took the time last week to join us for the retreat!

On another occasion, I experienced the power of words during an interview with one of the candidates for our Director of the Upper School position. He noted how polite our students were, and how he heard them saying “thank you” both to the adults around them and to each other. He commented about students holding the door for him and thanking him when he did the same. Occasionally, I will hold the door open when Upper School students enter the gym for town meetings or when they return indoors from a fire drill, and there is always  a chorus of “thank-you’s.” While it may seem small, this uncommon display of gratitude never ceases to amaze me.

We need to realize that those small touches really do have an impact, and that they set a tone and a purpose for what we are doing here at Flint Hill.  It is not an accident to see the poise and the manners exhibited by our children. We know that they come from your teachings at home and the things you expect from your children. And they also come from the faculty here at School and the way they go about the business of their daily lives. It is a collective effort that serves as a powerful reminder and example of what respect, gratitude and humility should look like on a daily basis.

We also need to remember to say “thank you” when we see it happening.  It is important to let our students know how proud we are when they do the right things. A former colleague of mine was bothered by the idea of thanking students for doing a great job, saying, “That’s what they are supposed to do! That is the expectation.” I would always emphasize that even though it was expected, we all like being thanked, praised and told when we are doing a great job. The same is true for our students. They need to know that we notice when they do the right thing and that it really does make a difference. There isn’t a teacher alive today who hasn’t saved a kind note or email from a parent, student or colleague that recognized them for a job well done. These gentle, heartfelt notes mean the world to teachers and parents alike.

Please join me in thanking our children for the positive things they are doing. Let’s remind them always of the power their words hold for good and look forward to watching these wonderful young people grow up to be amazing adults. And thank you for joining us in this adventure!

Sincerely,

John M. Thomas
Headmaster