Dear Flint Hill School Families,

It is hard to believe that we have passed a number of benchmarks for the start of every school year. We’ve experienced our first days of school, orientations, Field Studies in the Upper School and our Back-to-School Nights in each division. All three had record attendance, and from remarks that I have received from parents, they all were deeply appreciated and valued. The All-School Gathering last week was a huge success. And now, with the Headmaster’s Freshman Fiesta Dinner completed, we are well into this school year.

When I was in high school and college, I ran track and field. While I tended to be more involved in events like discus, javelin and high hurdles, I also had to run with the rest of the team. I struggled with long-distance running, but I learned to do it. And I learned early on, that after a good warmup, you start to get into a routine, and ultimately a rhythm that you hold onto as your pace as you run. Occasionally, you may put a few sprints in there to alter the pace, but then you return to your ongoing, consistent stride. And that stride becomes the rhythm you will maintain until that final charge at the end of the race.

For parents and teachers, school life is a little bit like that sense of being on a run. We do the warmup, at the beginning of the year, with a minimal number of days for two weeks and various orientation meetings and activities. We build up to five day weeks. We experience the milestones that tell us clearly we are back in school now. Summer is behind us. And then we finally get into our stride. From there, it is all about making sure we can keep a good, healthy and steady pace. Every event, success or frustration becomes critically important, as we work to maintain our pace. So as we help your children find their stride for this school year, let’s also recognize that a school year is a marathon, not a sprint. We need to value each stage of that process and what it means for everyone in our community.

So what can you do as parents? Here are a couple of thoughts:

Keep listening. Listen. Listen. Listen. When things become too much for our children, they will often tell us, but they may not tell us directly. Remember, 65% of all communication is nonverbal, so their looks and actions may “tell” you a great deal. Help your kids make certain that they are not getting overwhelmed. Watch for them trying to sprint too far, too fast. We want them to be challenged and to push themselves to achieve their best, but we don’t want them to burn out.

Make certain that they develop and maintain habits. It sounds like something right out of a health class, but children really do need proper nutrition, wellness and sleep habits. Those needs are real for them … and for us. They are essential as we go through life, and we have to all work to develop those habits. Research is beginning to show more and more health issues among adults and in our senior citizens related to poor eating and sleeping patterns. Helping your children to establish positive habits now — from making healthy snack choices to wearing sunscreen — will take them a long way in the future.

I also want to encourage you to continue to partner with us. We want this marathon of a school year to be positive, exciting and productive. Realize that we want to make sure that your children maintain a healthy “stride” through this year, where they will be challenged by our program, but with clear expectations and a foundation of support. The outcomes at the end of this “race” are going to be very positive, but we all need to work together to make it happen and happen right.

Best wishes to you and whatever we can do to be helpful, please do not hesitate to call on us!


John M. Thomas