November 9, 2016

Dear Flint Hill School Families,

Last week we reached the end of the first quarter, and with that, I hope that everyone had a very successful and productive Parent-Teacher Conference day. As you took the opportunity to talk about your child’s progress, I am sure you also enjoyed the time with the different teachers, spending casual moments with other parents, and the chance to gain a sense of how dynamic our diverse community can be. I also hope that you began to get a sense of our varied backgrounds, experiences and opportunities. All of that comes into focus on campus where we become a single “school family,” a phrase we use more frequently at Flint Hill than “community.”

The term “diversity” can be both divisive and triggering. Too often it is included among topics, such as politics or religion, that many people simply prefer not to discuss. But diversity is not about underscoring differences or lines of division. Rather, it has to do with how who we are as individuals contributes to the richness of the greater community. At Flint Hill, the idea of understanding the true definition of diversity and looking at our school as a diverse family is critical. There is no rule book for dealing with the many differences we encounter in our daily lives. For example, it is not easy to have views that differ from the people with whom we work or live. That struggle is emotional and real and often remains under the surface. The same holds true for parenting. As parents, we bring our children home from the hospital, excited and hopeful, but with little or no guidance regarding what comes next. We were armed with examples from our own childhoods and the occasional book, but only after experiencing parenthood first hand do we come to understand the many developmental, intellectual and emotional differences among children that make each child-rearing experience unique. Wherever and whenever differences occur, we must learn to adapt.

For several years now, Flint Hill has worked with a tremendous educator, Dr. Gene Batiste. He has worked with our faculty and staff on numerous occasions, with our Parents’ Association Board and, most recently, with our Board of Trustees. He has more than 20 years of experience and expertise guiding schools on how to sustain diverse, inclusive and equitable environments for their communities. Why? Because it is the right thing to do. I have had the good fortune to know Gene for many years and have always found him to be a catalyst for insightful thought, and someone who has helped me and others put things into far more perspective than we initially thought possible.

Gene has been a teacher, a school leader and someone who truly has made a difference in the programs he has touched. He holds degrees from Wiley College and North Texas State University and has an Ed.D. degree in educational and organizational leadership from the University of Pennsylvania. Before entering the consulting world, Gene was the executive director of Independent Education,now called Association of Independent Schools of Greater Washington. Prior to that, he was vice president for professional development and school field services and equity and justice initiatives at the National Association of Independent School, from 2000 to 2013. You may learn more about Gene here.

To support our efforts to expand our discussions regarding issues of inclusion to our parents, Dr. Batiste will host a presentation for all of our parents in the Upper School Commons on Wednesday, November 16, at 7:00 p.m. It will be an informative, thought-provoking opportunity for reflection and will provide a chance for parents to begin to understand the framework of diversity, and why we feel that this is critical work for us here at school. I urge all of you to attend that program. I hope you will join me in continuing this discussion to make our efforts a significant part of how we continue to grow stronger together as one school family.

Best wishes to you! I look forward to being with you next Wednesday at Dr. Batiste’s presentation and discussion.

Sincerely,

 

John M. Thomas
Headmaster