May 17, 2017

Dear Flint Hill Families,

During our recent and well-attended Alumni Reunion Weekend and Grandparents and Special Friends Day events, I had many people asking me questions about the School, our future plans and how we do all that we do. However, there was one question that caught me off guard and made me think — I was asked about the things that have guided my life that I didn’t learn in school. We often talk about all of the learning that takes place at Flint Hill, but I’m sure we can all agree that there are lessons we learn in life that can’t be taught in a classroom. After some thought, I came up with five themes that have influenced me and may also impact you as you ponder your life.

  1. Life is precious and complex. Our lives give us our story, and life is the fabric of all of our experiences along the way. I thought of that as I stood before all the grandparents and realized that in the journey of life, it wasn’t that long ago that they were the children themselves. They eventually became parents, and now they were the grandparents. When I consider my role as a grandfather, it’s hard to believe, when in my head I am still young and active. But life happens and can look differently for all of us. Among our grandparents and special friends, some people took off from work to attend the event while others had been retired for years. Some asked to try out our playgrounds, while others were using canes, scooters and walkers to get around. Life is all around us, and I learned a long time ago that it is our attitude that brings the richness of life to the forefront. Life can have some challenges, but we can control the narrative through the way we deal with those challenges.
  2. People make all the difference. People bring color and texture into our lives. Our loved ones, family, children, friends, co-workers — everyone who crosses our paths allow us to build relationships that touch our lives and the lives of others. People teach us, mentor us, love us, confide in us; people share their greatest moments of joy and their deepest most humiliating defeats. Granted, people can also make us angry, frustrate us and challenge us, but they also inspire us, energize us, and give us a sense of pleasure and pride. Above all, I have learned that we need to focus on creating and nurturing those relationships. It requires a great deal of work. Relationships don’t just happen, but with the right care, they help us keep a perspective on the lives we live.
  3. Make time work for you, not against you. It is one of the greatest gifts we are given and one of our harshest enemies. Part of the challenge in life is to learn how to use it. Time is in constant motion, and, yet, if used correctly, there is so much joy and reward in it. Think of how often we reference time in our daily interactions. “Where has all the time gone?” “Don’t waste time!” “It is time to…” “Time is up.”We need to use time to our advantage. We should work to step out of our normal routines and enjoy time with our families and friends. One of our greatest responsibilities as we get older is to get control of time even if we never fully master it. It is ours to use or lose.
  4. Passion is important. One of the keys to a fulfilling life is to discover the things that truly excite you. Maybe it is time with family, vacations, travel, work, leisure, hobbies or sports. For my wife Emily, after teaching for many years, it became her plants, and, of course, she has always been passionate about raising our sons. For me, besides family, it has always been education. Education is equally my hobby, my work and my passion in life. When we identify our passions, the work required to nurture them doesn’t feel like work — it feels effortless. We say in our vision, “Be yourself.” Part of this process is finding yourself and finding those passions.
  5. Don’t take your health for granted. This may seem like a strange item to list among lessons learned in life, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve had some surprises with health. As Mae West once said, “If I had known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.” From learning to apply sunscreen and brush our teeth as children to scheduling regular physicals and catching up on sleep as adults, we must do all we can to maintain our physical and emotional health. Our health impacts too many other aspects of our lives to be taken for granted.

What would your list look like? All of this, is about keeping life real and helping all of us realize that while we are on this journey, we need to take advantage of our time together, relish the people who come in and out of our lives, find the passions that get us excited, and always try to remember to have that hat on when we are standing at the side of the field!

Have a great week and weekend, and enjoy this beautiful weather.

Best wishes to you!

Sincerely,

John M. Thomas
Headmaster