Here is a challenge: Stand outside and greet children arriving to Kent School each morning and not feel elevated. My colleagues and I do Morning Greeting each day for a variety of reasons, one of them being student safety. However, I find myself looking forward to greeting students as an energizer and launchpad into my day. It is a way for me to connect with students in a positive, personal way. I can also do a brief check-in with parents to share a particular moment of pride that I witnessed in the classroom, on the court, or on the stage.
Morning Greeting at Kent School is just one of the personal touches that makes our Kent School community special. And what are we if we are not a strong community? I am proud to say that I know every child and their parents’ by name. At the risk of sounding boastful, I even know the names of siblings who do not attend Kent School, and I know some grandparents, too. A parent just asked me if I have a photographic memory. I wish! I know every student and family because they are my priority and they deserve to be known. They are our community. For me, Morning Greeting is not about commanding respect through a required firm hand-shake and a look in the eye. It’s about making students feel at home and valued for their presence at our school. I do like it, however, when a student asks me how I am doing and I let them know that I am grateful they asked.
In a small school like ours, relationships are as important as academics. We have recently asked several parents to share their “Why Kent School?” stories. A common theme in all their stories is the strong sense of community. Their children are known, valued and taught the way they need to be taught. Parents are using words like “home”, “family”, “belonging”, and “relationships” in their stories. Kent School is much more than simply a school where standards are met and test scores are motivators. Of course we have challenges and bumps in the road. What community built on personal relationships doesn’t? But we meet these challenges with honesty, respect, integrity, and friendship.
We are fortunate to be part of a school community that provides educational excellence with all the human touches of a healthy community . . . and it all starts with a Morning Greeting.
I have always thought of myself as an optimist. Maybe it is driven from a little bit of selfishness but I always prefer to see the opportunity that comes with change, challenge or adversity. COVID-19 is possibly the most significant challenge we have ever faced as a part of a global and local community. Yet, I remain an optimist. We will all learn so many new things as a result of this. There is so much goodness among us.
At Kent School, our teachers have so gracefully transitioned from the classroom space to an online space. I am lucky to be able to tune into lessons across all grade levels and subject areas. I am soothed by the voices of our Little School teachers as they explain the activity for the day. Mrs. Bower could lead us all in meditation. Mrs. Parkhurst’s Art Room channel on YouTube has a calming effect much like Bob Ross had on public television audiences years ago. If you’re feeling stressed, I urge you to tune in for a ten minute lesson. Whether you do the art project or not, you will feel better after just listening. Mrs. Kent is keeping us moving with fitness challenges and circuit training workouts. Feeling overwhelmed? Trust me, endorphins help.
Our employee group remains in touch with each other via Zoom and Google Hangouts. (I literally got a Hangout notification from Nancy as I am typing this, just saying a virtual and comforting hello.) It is wonderful to check in with each other to make sure we stay connected and share challenges and successes. Last week, I asked everyone to share one ‘pleasant surprise’ they have stumbled upon through our Distance Learning journey. The responses are inspiring and yet not all that surprising. Distance Learning brings the strength of our community into sharp focus. Our classroom teachers are comfortable in front of a class, not in front of a camera. Yet there they are, filming themselves so they can continue to teach. I am humbled and, you guessed it, optimistic about how the Kent School community will emerge from Distance Learning. We are rising to the challenge, embracing the learning process and exceeding expectations while remaining empathetic to individual situations.
We have a lot of good news to share that features innovations, creativity and resilience. Our teachers and students are displaying this each day. Starting April 1, we will begin sharing “The Bright Side” on our social media platforms. Each day we will feature a pleasant surprise we have stumbled upon through Distance Learning. We will be sharing “The Bright Side”, because there is always a bright side.
Feel free to share your or your student’s “Bright Side” story by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Assistant Head of School for Advancement