Dear Flint Hill School Families,

For the past few weeks, I’ve spent time in my letters focusing on parenting. At the core of it all, is our concept of “family.” We are all trying to build and nurture our own families. We give unconditional love to each other while focusing on teaching and educating our children. As we go through the process, we realize that “kids will be kids” and, at times, “parents will be parents.” Family is with us forever!

Here at school, we actually work on the very same goal. We call it our “school family.”  We focus on bringing everyone together and taking advantage of the benefits of learning from and with each other. We all take pride and joy in watching our great students go through their developmental process, and we stand ready to help in any way possible. Saturday’s International Festival is a prime example of our school family in action. The event was organized by our Director of Diversity and Inclusion Mia Burton, parent-volunteer Alysia Dempsey, and a whole host of parents and students. They deserve our thanks and appreciation for providing a wonderful end to our International Week festivities. Many of our participants came dressed in attire from their native countries, and 15 countries set up booths highlighting traditions, artifacts, culture and delicious food of their native countries. It was a colorful, positive and exciting festivity! Above all, it was engaging, and it highlighted the value and the respect that our school has for all the different experiences and backgrounds that come together to form our community. In addition, we had students attending an Odyssey of the Mind competition, others attending a Model UN event, and others participating in a baseball scrimmage. The list of activities taking place within our school can go on and on, and the pace here can seem frenetic, so a chance to re-energize is extremely helpful.

The approaching Spring Break provides us with just such an opportunity. Whether you are traveling or enjoying a “staycation,” the change in the normal daily routine that guides and structures all of our activities provides a valuable time for our families to stay connected. It also gives everyone time to get more rest and relaxation.

What is the best way to approach any vacation, and this one in particular? Please consider the following thoughts:

  1. Stay engaged. Many of us are high achievement-oriented people who are constantly on the go. If you are going away for a vacation, please do not take your work with you. Leave it at home or, at least, have some scheduled times to unplug, especially when it comes to technology. Remember, we are modeling for our children how to engage in our families and how to actually step away from work occasionally.

    Talk to your kids and ask questions. Do you know what your children’s favorite colors are? Or their favorite TV show or movie? Do you know what they would love to do in the future? Do they have a bucket list? And then turn those questions around; what do they know about you? Whether it is in a car or just sitting around the table at dinner time, not having homework or dealing with our normal daily challenges gives us the opportunity to ask questions and to have great conversations, so that we truly can get to know each other. We need to make certain that our kids know that we truly love them and want to get to know them. A vacation is the perfect time do that.

  2. Carve out time for what is most important. Time is one of the greatest gifts in life, but also one of the most challenging. If you are staying at home because you have to work, please pick an afternoon or an evening to dedicate to your family. Or if you can get away for a day, spend that time with the kids to do a day trip or any activity. And if you are traveling, make certain that it isn’t jam-packed with activities without any focus. Make part of that adventure time to focus on your children.
  3. Get some rest. More and more research says that sleep is critical. It helps us think better, fends off disease and inhibits aging. And yet, our culture has become so focused on achievement that sleep, even for adults, is becoming less and less of a priority. We definitely need to get the sleep, rest and relaxation our bodies need. Granted, sometimes being active is relaxing. But above all, we need to do things that are restorative, calming and energizing.

Each vacation will be memorable for your family. Whether it is in the activity, the trip, or just the calm and peaceful opportunity to do nothing, those memories will remain with them forever. We have amazing children! We need to take advantage of the time we have with them. Each moment is precious; the more we can focus on them, the more they will learn and gain from our experience and the love that we have for them.  And the more is gained by feeling the pride in seeing who they are becoming as strong, thoughtful and engaging individuals.

Enjoy! Have a tremendous spring break. Please know that when we get back, there will be lots of activities that will suddenly be coming our way. From the Arts Jam Concert, on April 19 at George Mason University, to Springfest, spring athletic games, plays, the spring musical, Lower School Engineering Night and many others, it will be a packed fourth quarter. Let’s use this vacation to get ourselves ready, so we can go forward with all that “driving spirit” that is such a part of our school culture.


Best wishes to you!


John M Thomas