Dear Flint Hill School Families,

The start of the school year is truly under way. I loved coming into the office early on Monday and once again seeing Upper School students being dropped off by their parents and others getting out of their cars, preparing for the Pre-Season Athletic Team meetings. All of a sudden, the halls feel more natural with faculty moving back and forth and students filling the gym and fields with laughter, smiles and that ever present drive to work hard!

I think it was my mother, who years ago, taught me the “Five P’s” expression, “Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance.” She was a stickler for details and for making sure that you were prepared before you did anything. It is a quiet philosophy that I have carried into my teaching, my career, family, activities, and even my years as a coach. It comes through for all of us in various ways — the preparation for family trips, getting ready to make a presentation and getting ready to get back to school.

I am sure many of you are preparing your children for the upcoming start of the school year next week. Whether it was purchasing school supplies sometime during the summer, shopping for school clothing or just finalizing last-minute arrangements, all of this is driven by prior planning to make sure our children are ready for their orientations or first day of classes. But some of this prior planning can be stressful too.  This time of the year brings vivid memories to me of our children. They would put off their summer reading for the entire summer (not without hearing a steady barrage of nagging and encouragement, mind you.) And then all of a sudden, the school year was about to begin. There was always a final push for them to complete their reading. And if I remember correctly, that made for some quiet nights at home just prior to the start of school.

Our faculty and staff have also been hard at work to prepare for this new school year.  Many took part in amazing professional development opportunities throughout the summer months. New faculty and staff members —14 this year —were actively engaged in orientation activities all last week. Among those 14 new Huskies, there were several people who joined us last year during the winter or spring, one is an alum and one is a former teacher who has returned. All in all, it is a tremendous group of talented and capable professionals who truly have the “Driving Spirit” and are preparing to bring their unique set of talents, passions and ideas to our students!

This week, we have the entire faculty and staff back on campus. They have a rigorous schedule of division meetings, department sessions, team meetings and time to prepare their classrooms for the influx of students next week! As we approach the rollout of our Strategic Plan, it is important to remember that every action we take as a School should be intentional, deliberate and strategic. We have an end goal. At every grade level, we want our students to be confident, competent, poised, and positive. Achieving that goal requires careful planning and a thoughtful caring focus on our four core values and on making the learning everywhere meaningful, personal and effective.

On Monday, we interviewed a candidate for a substitute position in our Learning Center. While we talked about her global teaching experiences, she shared a story that gave me a sense that it is all coming together. She said that as she entered the Upper School Campus, a student-athlete held the first door for her, and then another student, inside the building, came running to open and hold the second door for her. This experience stood out to her — she wasn’t used to students holding the doors or saying “good morning” to her as she entered a school building. I have heard similar reports before on both campuses, and it is a prime example of our culture here at Flint Hill. That sense of respect and responsibility came from you teaching manners at home, our focus on that behavior, and the collective sense of doing what is right. We are preparing our children for life.

Enjoy working on your preparation for the school year! We are doing the same, planning for this year and beyond. To this end, I hope you will plan to join me, the Board of Trustees and our leadership team on the evening of Tuesday, September 29, for our State of the School meeting. This meeting will mark the formal introduction of the Strategic Plan to our community and is not to be missed.

Best wishes as we count down these last few days and get ready for the start of this exciting school year!



John M. Thomas