Dear Flint Hill School Families,

I hope everyone enjoyed the tremendous Winterfest last weekend. Thank you so much to Angela and Thomas Parham for their leadership and to everyone who participated in the activities for the students and in manning the Igloo. Special thanks go to our Facilities Team, which did a remarkable job in parking so many cars. We probably had the largest crowd we have ever had for a Winterfest. And after having the cold temperatures we have endured this winter so far, it was our warmest Winterfest in history! In fact, past Springfests haven’t been this warm. Everyone worked so hard to make Winterfest another special event, accomplishing another milestone in the course of this school year.

Events like this always make me think about how we truly focus on our students. In our Admission events, we always refer to the fact that we are a “student-centered” school, and we frequently refer to our mantra of “what is in the best interest of the students.” But we shouldn’t confuse those phrases with indulging students by allowing them to become entitled, spoiled or getting away with all the negatives that we hear about in the press. And to be fair, some people might interpret our focus on putting our students first as indulgent or inappropriate in a challenging college prep program. To be clear, our focus is on creating a program and culture that give our students the very best they need. But what does that mean schoolwide? How is that interpreted it in the classroom, activities or events? My winter Headmaster’s Parent Discussion Series will begin soon, and we will have the opportunity to discuss many parenting and educational issues. And while most of those sessions can include open-ended Q&A and updates on school events, they are also an opportunity to focus on a specific theme. The theme this year will be on “Defining Student-Centered” at each of the grade levels.

Tuesday, January 30, at 8:15 a.m.
Lower and Middle School Multipurpose Room
Grades JK-4 Headmaster’s Parent Discussion Series

At this age level, we need to make certain that our children are being appropriately challenged in the classroom while receiving the guidance and support to begin to develop a sense of character, work ethic, and a true path to live and breathe our four core values. Our focus is to help set the foundation for a tremendous productive life ahead. The quest to learn about curiosity, creativity, collaboration and the joy of imagination starts here; it does not end here. As a 4-year-old in JK once admonished me, “Focus, Mr. Thomas. Focus!!” And that is what we do.

Tuesday, February 6, at 8:15 a.m.
Lower and Middle School Multipurpose Room
Grades 5-8 Headmaster’s Parent Discussion Series

Middle school age is one of the most difficult ones to navigate. Their bodies are changing rapidly. Intellectually, they are beginning to develop in ways that have them thinking on an adult level. And through it all, there is a level of insecurity and insensitivity that some students hide and others wear on their sleeves. What do we need to do at this age, when their view of who they are as individuals and the need for acceptance by their peers is so important? Why do they want to start acting older than they are? How do we make sure that they are getting the right support and the right opportunities to show initiative and develop the skills they will need as they go through this very challenging life stage?

Thursday, February 8, at 8:15 a.m.
Upper School Multipurpose Room
Grades 9-12 Headmaster’s Parent Discussion Series

This is the age when they are suddenly beginning to come into their own. They are finding their passions, interests, academic pursuits, sports, arts and the list can go on and on. How do they balance those opportunities with discussions about college? How do they move forward with some level of confidence in what the future holds? This is an age when they truly begin to step out more, and for some, they may be getting their driver’s licenses and begin to drive away from parents and school at a critical time. It is a challenging time for everyone, but we need to keep our focus on them and the needs they have even when they don’t appreciate our experience and understanding of what they may need.

Each age level has its unique challenges and rewards. My Parent Discussion Series is an opportunity for us to gather and talk through all of it in a very open and accessible, wide-ranging discussion. Our faculty and staff do an incredible job at each of the grade levels, however, this is a partnership, and we need to get your feedback on how the program is being accepted and understood. So please join me for these discussions and a chance to truly talk through our next steps in the lives of our great children.

John M. Thomas