January 25, 2017

Dear Flint Hill School Families,

Today’s Founder’s Day celebration was very special. It is one of those great moments when we are able to gather the entire student body, faculty and staff to reflect on our relationships, the power of our school culture and to reinforce our school values. It seems like only yesterday when we gathered for the All-School Gathering in September. Our annual winter Founder’s Day event provides a time for us to stop to recognize and honor people who make this school special, effective and transformative.

The program is part pageantry, part ceremony and part ritual, but above all, it is celebratory. We talk often at school about education being the “people business,” and how important it is to build meaningful relationships. And these interactions begin with teachers and students working together in the classrooms. Slowly, they evolve into mentorships, and ultimately, they often become lifelong friendships. Every year, our alumni return to visit with faculty and staff to catch up and to share the excitement of their new lives, ventures and accomplishments. They also want to thank them for the foundation that they provided here at Flint Hill.

Founder’s Day always starts with the ringing of our school bell, four times, to represent our core values of respect, responsibility, honesty and compassion. We reinforce the fact that those values are ever present in everything we do. The program also gives us a moment to stop and reflect on the members of our school family, graduates and former faculty and staff who have passed away over the past school year. Their names are read aloud and the school bell tolls for them as well. We are sincere when we say, “Once a Husky, always a Husky.” Their contributions to our community, no matter the duration, will never be forgotten.

We also recognize longevity. Faculty and staff celebrating milestones anniversaries — 5, 10 and 15 years — are asked to stand and be recognized for those significant milestones in their professional journeys. This year, there are 35 people who have reached these important milestones.

Last year, we began a tradition to provide special recognition for faculty and staff who reach the 20-year milestone. They are personally recognized at Founder’s Day and their photographs are hung on both campuses. This year, three people have reached this milestone:

 

  • Director of Counseling Barbara Benoit. Barbara brings a blend of professionalism and humor to both campuses on a daily basis. Her impact has been powerful and sincere and her influence on so many levels has touched the lives of our students, faculty and parents.
  • IT Systems Manager Cynthia Cuellar. Cynthia works tirelessly in our Technology Department, often behind the scenes, but is always available to help students and faculty to make certain that our systems are operating efficiently.  Her valuable work has enabled our technology program to reach the incredible heights that it has achieved today.
  • Acting Director of Development Michele Velchik. Michele has served in numerous roles at Flint Hill, from serving as Parent Liaison to roles in the Admission and Development Offices. Michele’s ever-present enthusiasm, energy, and commitment to service and support are shining examples of our Driving Spirit.

 

Twenty years is a significant milestone in a person’s life, and we are honored that all three of those incredible leaders have made Flint Hill and all of us a significant part of their lives.

 

At the end of the Founder’s Day ceremony, we recognize the winners of our Driving Spirit Award. Early in the year, I call for nominations from alumni, parents and students to acknowledge the people who have had an impact in their lives at Flint Hill. It could be argued that all of our faculty and staff are worthy of such recognition, but this year in particular, the Committee tasked with making this difficult decision selected three individuals who often serve behind the scenes. They truly help Flint Hill to run smoothly and seamlessly, and they do it with relentless drive in quiet, determined, compassionate and dependable ways. It was an honor to recognize this year’s winners:

 

  • Upper School Campus Receptionist and Admission Assistant Cathy French. Cathy works behind the front desk of the Upper School building and provides support to the Admission Office. Her warm smile and voice as she answers the main switchboard on a daily basis, make a huge difference in the lives of so many people. Her willingness to help students, faculty, parents and visitors in every way possible have made her an invaluable part of our school community.
  • School Registrar Maha Morse. Maha works with students and families to make certain that their schedules are put together appropriately and that transcripts arrive in a timely fashion to their various destinations. She also processes the F-1 visas for our international students and is a great advisor for our Upper School students. She works tirelessly to make sure that everything is done effectively, efficiently and has a positive outcome.
  • Administrative Assistant to the Middle School Anne Young. Everyone who has ever been through the Middle School has witnessed Anne’s generous nature, hard work, commitment and her willingness to help everyone. Whether it is to dry some tears, help a parent with a question or assist a faculty member, her calm and patient demeanor always make a difference. She has been the backbone of our Middle School for many years and continues to have an impact.

 

It was an exciting day filled with cheers, applause and deep appreciation. It was also a chance to enjoy the company of our fellow Huskies to celebrate the contributions and accomplishments of some very special people. And finally, the event provided us with an opportunity to look ahead with some excitement for all that we still have to accomplish together in this school year.

On a separate note, looking ahead in the school calendar, I want to remind you that my Headmaster’s Parent Discussion Series will begin soon. I would like to invite parents in every division to attend these sessions as they are focused on your role as parents and how best to parent your children in different age groups. The schedule is as follows:

 

  • Upper School: Tuesday, January 31, at 8:15 a.m. — Upper School Campus, Multipurpose Room
  • Lower School: Tuesday, February 7, at 8:15 a.m.  — Lower/Middle School Campus, Multipurpose Room
  • Middle School: Tuesday, February 14 at 8:15 a.m. —  Lower/Middle School Campus, Multipurpose Room

 

A key priority for me is to ensure that you all know that I am always accessible and available to you, so please mark those dates on your calendars. I would love for you to join us and look forward to an open, honest and exciting discussion.

It is hard to believe that we are nearly at the end of January. If we can be helpful in any way as we move forward, please do not hesitate to call on us.

 

Best wishes to you!

Sincerely,

John M. Thomas
Headmaster