Dear Flint Hill School Families,

I hope everyone had an outstanding break and a chance to enjoy their time with family and friends. I wish everyone a happy 2019 and all the best for the year ahead! This time of the year often calls for resolutions, and naturally, we begin to plan the hopes and dreams that we may have for the upcoming year. Sadly, if you are like me, some of those resolutions about eating better, exercising more, and reading the classics all seem to slide away in no time. While I reflected on the start of this new year, however, I had an epiphany. It had to do with something that I know we all practice in our ordinary lives, but for some reason, the words came to me with more urgency this time: the concept of thinking and doing things that are bigger than ourselves.

This thought ran through my head while I was holding our youngest granddaughter, Anne Luli. She is seven months old, and as I was looking at her beautiful eyes, I was thinking about this little girl, her heritage, her future, and the responsibility her parents and Emily and I, as grandparents, have for her. Her parents named her Anne after the book “Anne of Green Gables,” which was a book that Kae, our daughter-in-law, read as she was learning English for the first time. Kae is Japanese and from Nagasaki. She had loved the name Anne and always wanted any future daughter to have that name. She and our son, Derek, live in California and had flown east to spend Christmas with us. Anne is probably one of the quietest babies I have ever encountered. She has a full head of dark black hair that she was born with and doesn’t seem to have lost a single strand since that time.

Anne and I met for the first time in July when we flew west to spend time with her as a newborn, but I really fell in love with her over this break. As I held her, I realized we have so much we need to help teach her and so much she will teach us. Each turn of her head, the smiles that easily come to her face, or the sparkle in her eyes as she looked at the lights in the trees and the Santas that I had all over the house, showed us she was absorbing all that was around her. This reminded me of our responsibility to aid in her education and development. All of us around her — family, parents, grandparents, and everyone she comes into contact with — have an obligation to teach her and all children about life: how to be kind and thoughtful, how to be curious and imaginative, and how to explore and experience this world with a sense of grit and determination — that same determination that she demonstrated on our carpet, as she would crawl from one end to the other end in record time. As parents, I know you have felt that same sense of wonder and of responsibility.

I see this concept played out here at school all the time. Our basketball teams were in tournaments over the break. Coach Rico Reed mentioned to me that while they are working hard when they play and doing the best they can, he also knows that in tournaments like that, our players are representing Flint Hill and the entire Mid-Atlantic Athletic Conference. Every game they play helps build the reputation of our athletic conference and who we represent. The same holds true when our children go about their activities in and outside of school. They are representing far more than themselves. They represent their families, our school, independent school education, the state of Virginia, and the list can go and on. Even all the work that you have heard about our Campus Master Plan and some of the exciting things that have come from our annual giving — all of those gifts go beyond each individual child’s experience. When we renovate playgrounds or robotics labs, it is for all the children, now and in the future, who will benefit from those enhancements. It is “bigger than ourselves.” All of it is critical to our children’s futures and sends a message that people here care about them, their education and their experience.

So, as we go into this new year and think about how to make things better and how to make ourselves better, let’s all look through the lens of doing things that are bigger than ourselves.

Again, welcome back! I look forward to working together to make 2019 one of the very best years, not just in our school’s history, but in our children’s lives and in the lives of all Huskies now and in the future! And who knows, maybe someday, I will be able to talk our kids into moving east, and Anne Luli will become a Husky herself!

Best wishes to you!


John M. Thomas