October 18, 2017

Dear Flint Hill School Families,

I started to draft a different letter for this week, but after reflecting on these past few days, I was overwhelmed with gratitude.  I mentioned gratitude earlier in the year and how important it is for us to stop and think about what we are grateful for in our lives. Research is showing us that when we concentrate on gratitude, it makes us feel better and helps us combat the pressures and challenges that are a part of normal life. Just over the past few days, I have seen so much that makes me realize how fortunate I am — and I think all of us are — to be a part of the Flint Hill family. I’d like to share a few of these things with you.

  • Parents’ Association Board Meeting. On Friday, I had the privilege to attend a meeting of parents who are absolutely committed to supporting the School as they build on President Sharon McBride’s vision of making a “joyful impact.” It is always exciting to observe their positive intent, sincere interest, energy and commitment to making a difference. These are parents who want to support the School’s mission and vision. There was also an overwhelmingly positive response to the introduction of “Kaleidoscope,” a new book club for parents presented by Director of Diversity and Inclusion Mia Burton and parents Charlotte Chess and Rebecca Jenkins. I was so grateful to see that people are willing to embrace new ways to learn with each other about our own experiences, all in the context of our school family.
  • The Admission Team. The team hosted a large Middle School Information Session on Friday and presented a very successful Lower School Admission Feature Program Event on Innovation the following day. These events were made possible thanks to the support of teachers, parent-volunteers and staff, who gave up this personal time to share what we are doing on a daily basis. Their positive, energetic, open, and responsive way of promoting our program makes it personal and meaningful for the prospective families. It is uniquely Flint Hill.
  • Homecoming. The excitement had been building all week with Spirit Days until Friday when the Upper School students hosted an incredible Pep Rally for Middle and Upper School students. It was something to behold. You may have had to hold your hands over your ears occasionally, but the energy and the excitement were real and gratifying to witness. The Powder Puff Football game Friday evening had an enormous crowd — possibly the largest ever — and the Parents’ Association provided a great dinner complete with glow sticks wrapped in cotton candy. Saturday started cloudy and chilly but ended with bright sun. Our Upper School students engaged in very competitive athletics games, with wins for every team. Our younger Huskies were getting their faces painted and enjoyed bouncing on the inflatables. Others were visiting Spirit Alley and taking full advantage of the pop-up School Store. Many were listening to the drumline and cheering on the dancers and the athletes. And a steady flow of young alumni was thrilled to return to campus. Many had made a special point of returning just to be on the campus to catch up with some old friends and to cheer on the Huskies. It was all a very visible demonstration of how remarkable this community is.

    I also want to acknowledge our Facilities Team, which works tirelessly to maintain both of our campuses and to set up and break down equipment for all of our events. Every single event that takes place at this school is a success because of their hard work.

  • Board of Trustees Meeting on Monday. Our Board members are the stewards of our school’s mission. The people who truly step up to make a difference. During Monday’s meeting, our Director of the Lower School Sheena Hall shared a presentation about the Lower School that was incredible. The Board sincerely appreciated the chance to better understand how our program operates on a daily basis. Several, in fact, openly commented they wished they had children who were still able to attend school in that division. And as the meeting went on, I was reminded of their expertise, their attention to detail, and their willingness to sacrifice time and effort to help make this school great.
  • Leadership Meeting on Monday. The School’s Leadership Team meets every two weeks when we have the opportunity to reflect on the things that we have done over the past several weeks, plan for upcoming events, and talk about the initiatives that each leader is working on. These regular meetings ensure a seamless experience for our students and their families, and every discussion we have and decision we make is driven by your children’s best interests. The overwhelming Driving Spirit among this group truly helps make a difference. I deeply appreciate and value it.
  • Grade 9 Community of Concern. We ended the day on Monday with a Grade 9 program, “Why is Mental Health so Important?” More than 330 people attended that evening’s evening dinner and had a chance to hear Dr. Catherine McCarthy’s presentation. A leading psychiatrist in this area, she spoke about mental health, in particular, anxiety and depression. After her presentation, students and parents alike were mesmerized by graduate Taylor Swart ‘08. Taylor was an incredible student-athlete and leader when she was with us, who then went on to be a very successful teacher, and will soon become a nurse practitioner.  Taylor spoke about her struggles with an eating disorder, depression and anxiety, which began in middle school. Her honest presentation received a standing ovation from everyone in the gym and helped initiate a greater awareness of how important social and emotional needs are for our children.

 

The things I have listed here don’t even include what is happening in every classroom, on the stage, and on every field and court as our teachers, coaches and students are working together to bring life to our wonderful program.

We should all be grateful! Sometimes, it is hard to recognize how fortunate we are to be part of a school that wants to do all it can FOR your children. I stand in awe of all the people who are part of this school family. I hope you will join me in taking a mindful moment and reflect on the deep appreciation we all have for the parents, students and faculty who make our school a great place to be.

Best wishes to you! And thank you for making this school the great place it is!!!

Sincerely,

John M. Thomas
Headmaster