Dear Flint Hill School Families,
I hope everyone enjoyed the unexpected snow day. After the fairly mild winter so far, we certainly learned that Mother Nature is always in charge. There is no telling what the rest of this season holds, but it is clear that it’s winter, and we all need to plan for any weather event. This can mean everything from making sure we have shovels, hats, gloves, or whatever it may take to make sure we are prepared. We also have to be ready to “move on a dime,” and act immediately when and if we are surprised with another storm.
The same holds true with our children. While we love them unconditionally, and we know that they are remarkable individuals, we also have to be prepared for those icy moments when they do something they should not have done. How do we set our expectations for them at home? How do we create reasonable consequences for missteps? How do we make “directed guidance” (what I call discipline) a learning tool? Believe it or not, everyone loves and needs structure and limits. We need to know and trust that there are limits to what we can and should do. And we have to focus on how to make those limits clear, reasonable, fair and effective. It is the most challenging part of our role as parents and as educators. But in the long run, it can have the greatest impact on helping everyone understand the expectations that we have set forth for them and to understand the potential consequences if they fail to meet those standards.
Speed limit signs, for example, serve a purpose for us. They remind us of our responsibility to keep ourselves and others safe on the roads. Family talks and consistent application of discipline when necessary at home certainly cover that for many of us. School rules, core values, and clear communication at Flint Hill help as well. But there is always room to listen. To question. To do better. To struggle and learn more about the most appropriate and effective outcomes.
My upcoming Headmaster’s Parent Discussion Series will focus on these topics and how they apply to the different age groups that make up our great school. These sessions will be done with a webinar component again, but I would love to see a large turnout so that we can all openly talk, reflect, listen and engage with each other in person. This discussion is important, so I want to put these dates on your calendars now. Your input and thoughts about what we have all learned dealing with discipline at home and what you hope and expect to see at school are important for all of us.
This season’s dates and times are:
- Grades JK-4 Headmaster’s Parent Discussion Series — Monday, January 28, 8:15 a.m., Lower and Middle School Campus Multipurpose Room
- Grades 5-8 Headmaster’s Parent Discussion Series — Tuesday, February 5, 8:15 a.m., Lower and Middle School Campus Multipurpose Room
- Grades 9-12 Headmaster’s Parent Discussion Series — Thursday, February 7, 8:15 a.m., Upper School Campus Multipurpose Room
Your active engagement and voice in these discussions are important to us and always deeply appreciated. I look forward to seeing you at these upcoming coffees.
And please join me in reflecting on the powerful and long-lasting impact of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as we head into this long weekend. His lessons on how to forgive, how to love, how to serve, and how to dream are critical and important for us to carry, as we journey through life. At the Upper School Town Meeting today, students shared their commitment to service and their own dreams with their classmates. And I shared two of my favorite quotes by Dr. King: “People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.” and “Intelligence plus character — that is the goal of true education.”
Let’s make sure we honor Dr. King’s legacy at Flint Hill by communicating, never fearing one another, and valuing our commitment to learning and our core values!
Best wishes to you as we move into the heart of winter! Let’s enjoy the beauty of the snow and make sure that everyone is safe, warm and protected.
John M. Thomas
About the Headmaster
Since 2005, John Thomas has served as Flint Hill’s Headmaster. He is a graduate of the McDonogh School in Baltimore, Maryland, and holds degrees from Randolph Macon College and Towson University, with a certificate in school psychology from the State of Maryland. He is co-author of “Psychodiagnostic Evaluation of Children: A Casebook Approach,” and has articles published in the book “Parenting Teens: Collected Essays by Independent School Educators” published by the Secondary School Admission Test Board. John has served on the Board of Trustees for the Virginia Association of Independent Schools (VAIS) and the Association of Independent Schools of Greater Washington (AISGW), and is a current Board member for Emerging Scholars. He and his wife Emily, a former teacher, have three grown sons, three daughters-in-law and four grandchildren.
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