The Future of Education at Work

Dear Flint Hill School Families,

Occasionally, I talk with people who are frustrated with schools, the state of education today, and the world in general. Such concerns reflect the serious issues schools currently face, but there is hope. Creating an educational connection that focuses on learning, the student, creating healthy relationships, balance and the traits young people will need in the future, are key elements of the solution. And I see those factors at play each and every day at Flint Hill.

For example, were you able to attend the Arts Jam GMU Concert last week? Nearly 160 students provided “one of the most unbelievable musical concerts I have ever witnessed in my life” – a refrain that I heard from parents, faculty and students alike. It was a powerful moment. Everyone was in awe of the talent, hard work and commitment displayed by our amazing students. Then, last weekend, 82 Upper School students participated in the annual Relay for Life at George Mason University to raise funds to combat cancer. It is an overnight event and our amazing students raised $22,337 for the American Cancer Society. We should all thank Science Teacher Cyndi Hoffman, and a great group of faculty members, who helped chaperone the event in addition to the 82 students who made it happen!

On Monday, 16 Upper School students were honored as scholar-athletes as they were recognized for their commitment to play sports at various colleges and universities around the country. Several students were recognized earlier in the year and there are several more waiting to hear final decisions over the next few weeks. On average, each year 20 Flint Hill students go on to play college athletics.

Also on Monday, 133 students were recognized in the Photography and Digital Arts Reception and Show. If you happen to come to the Upper School Campus, please visit  the library to see the professional quality pieces our students have produced. The creativity and joy visible in the work will leave you smiling with pride. And we continue to hear reports of student successes outside of School, in competitions in the arts, writing, athletics and film, including two students who earned First and Second Place honors at the recent National History Day Statewide Competition in Richmond, Va. Day in and day out, our students are demonstrating their passion for learning.

Flint Hill’s recent accomplishments have been complemented by our faculty. A number of faculty members have been invited to speak at the OESIS National Conference in Boston next October, which focuses on online and blended learning. I have been asked to speak at the NAIS-CASE Conference next January. In March, Classics Department Chair Howard Chang was named by The American Classical League as the recipient of the 2015 Dr. Elizabeth Watkins Latin Teacher Award. In our Lower School, the Fauquier Times wrote an article about Music Teacher Alecia Cardell, who was asked to teach West African dance and drumming for students at the Wakefield School. And our Upper School Science and Robotics Teacher Alex Lester, has been awarded a Klingenstein Summer Institute Fellowship, for an intensive summer program at Columbia University. The list of accomplishments by our faculty can go on and on, and we will continue to keep you updated on their pursuits in and outside of the classroom.

As I reflected with pride on the many achievements taking place throughout our community, I received a wonderful letter from a graduate who is finishing her Master of Education in English from the Teachers College at Columbia University. In the letter she stated, “I want to stay in New York City for about a year or two, but then I have high hopes of returning to the NoVa area and hopefully teaching at Flint Hill School. The school holds a huge place in my heart. Flint Hill truly helped shape me into the person I am today, both socially and academically, and it definitely confirmed my dream of becoming an English Teacher.” I can’t wait for her application!

There is great hope for the future of education if the right teachers, coaches, mentors and students have the opportunity to work together in a culture that embraces the excitement of learning. Join me in taking pride in the fact that Flint Hill is a community that is doing all it can to create outstanding scholars, athletes, artists and citizens of the world. And we do that with the wonderful “driving spirit” we all have come to love and cherish.

Have a tremendous week ahead! I look forward to seeing everyone at Springfest on Saturday. So many members of our School family have worked hard to prepare for it.  I’d also like to remind you that our Upper School Portfolio Art Show Opening is scheduled for next Monday, April 27 at 6:00 p.m. The Upper School Honor Society Inductions are scheduled for Wednesday, April 29 at 7:00 p.m., and our Upper School Musical, “Bye Bye Birdie” will hold four performances:  May 1, 2, 8 and 9 at 7:30 p.m. in the Olson Theater. This musical is appropriate for adults and students of all ages. On Tuesday, May 12, we will host our Ceramics Show at 6:00 p.m. And please continue to check your calendars and the Weekly Newsletter for all the upcoming School concerts, events, games and activities. The list is endless and spring is finally here!

Best wishes to you!

Sincerely,

John M. Thomas
Headmaster