Dear Flint Hill School Family,
As we approach this time of the year, I can almost sense the energy level beginning to dip slightly in some people. It has been a full, active, and very busy fall. And while I know students and faculty alike need some time away to re-energize and get that “bucket” of energy filled back up, I have also had some people ask questions like, “Isn’t a week for Thanksgiving too much?” “Shouldn’t everyone be in class working?” “Wouldn’t it be better to wait for the winter break in a few weeks?” The reality is there are a lot of things going on right now. And to have us all fully charged, particularly the Upper School students, who will be facing exams in just a few weeks, rejuvenating that sense of energy is critically important. Yes, the week for families is a good thing, and we hope everyone is able to take full advantage of it.
And while the faculty and staff will be “in school” next Monday and Tuesday, the pace will be so different, and it will allow them time to re-center and get ready for what’s ahead. Teachers will be going through a combination of professional development, division meetings and also beginning the process of preparation for the huge transition that we all are going to experience next summer. Yes, we need to be working now to get ready for next summer. It may seem like it is so far away, but to make it seamless, smooth, and successful then, we need to put in a tremendous amount of preparation. And if we do this phase well, next week, then we can join families in having an incredible Thanksgiving!
The Lower and Middle Schools, in fact, are preparing for significant moves. Whether it is the move to the new Peterson Middle School building or to a new classroom in the soon-to-be renovated Hazel Academic building, some of that work has to get underway literally this winter and spring! Now is the right time for teachers to begin to sort through everything they have in their classrooms. Call it “pruning” or “purging”, the challenge is to look at everything, determine what is out of date, and select what they truly will need in their new rooms. At the same time, they want to get it started now so there is time to work on this process all winter long. If you have ever moved, I am sure you have vivid memories of the process.
Meanwhile, while we are starting that adventure here at school, we want YOU to step away from your regular routines and just let this special holiday overwhelm you. It is a change of pace, I hope for everyone. Normal days for you are probably full of work or school events. Our schedules can seem almost overwhelming at times. While we can’t fully step away from some responsibilities, we need to take the opportunity to reconnect with our immediate and extended families. We need to laugh more, relax more, and find enjoyment in less-structured time. Whether it is to spend some significant time together that week or simply share a meal, this time reminds us that we are part of something far greater than ourselves. To help us as we move into that break, here are some simple reminders:
- Smile. Even if we have been stressed throughout this fall season, research has actually shown that if we smile more, we will feel better. A smile seems to bring on the good feelings. So take time to enjoy being with your children and those relatives, friends, and neighbors. And smile as you prepare the meals or do any activity with family, relatives, or friends. And remember, smiles are contagious just like yawns. Besides, people may start to wonder why you are smiling so much and, before they know it, they will be smiling too!
- Take time. You know that I am fixated on time. But we need to take time over this break to be present with the people we love. To really listen to them, and to look them in the eye. We need to “share” time with them. Do not be distracted. Please put the phone away, get offline, and just be with the people who mean the world to us. The gift of time is the most precious gift we can ever give someone.
- Engage. Find whatever way works best for you. It could be everything from playing board games together or taking a long walk. It could also be either becoming more active or slowing down. Do whatever your family may want to do. Bottom line, do it in the most positive, productive way. We have a chance during this upcoming Thanksgiving break to step back and reflect on all that we have accomplished this fall. Take a mindful moment and be ready for that final push across the finish line, as we rapidly head toward the winter break. And let’s never lose sight of the fact that when we do come back after the holidays, there is more time between January and when the closings and graduation will be taking place. But it will seem to go so much faster. It is like coming down a slide in a playground. So we will need to build up every bit of energy we can muster.
So have a great Thanksgiving! Thank you again for everything you have done to help make this fall so successful and productive. Flint Hill is a stronger school and a more exciting school family because of you! Together, let’s enjoy some family time and be present with and for those that we love.
Best wishes to you!
John M. Thomas