This summer our school community lost a child.
To say that the loss was devastating is to go far wide of the mark. The Admin Team, just as surely as many others among us, wrestled with raw grief, with blinding confusion, and with roiling concern for all of the friends and family that Tessa left behind. We all will miss her forever.
It’s easy to say that no one can be prepared for the loss of a child. Far harder is the effort to explain the aftermath. There are questions for which we will never have answers and, more pointedly, to which none of us can lay claim. What we can say for sure is that we are awed by the strength and resilience and wisdom of Tessa’s family in confronting their loss.
This piece is testament to all that they wished to honor and share in holding us all up at a time when we mistakenly thought we were holding them.
So, what are we to do in moving forward?
Acknowledge the abiding grief.
Certainly. We will wrap this school community in love and walk with each other on the journey for as long as it takes.
Honor the spirit.
We will seek and foster deep connections with the families we serve. We will demand to be heard on the issues that impact children in our school and throughout our state and country. We will nurture a culture of learning and serving that encourages students to live out loud as they grow and change and confront all that the world lays before them as opportunity and challenge.
Celebrate the life.
We will ask that you begin to reframe priorities with us to allow all of us–families, teachers, staff, students–to focus on what matters most. As a community grows and changes there is a temptation among all of us to stake claims and assume that we know all about each other’s motives and perspectives. That natural tendency, though, pulls at the common threads that keep a community tightly-woven and vital
This year, you’ll see the Admin Team working hard to reduce the load we carry from thousands (really!) of emails we receive each week. The immediacy of the medium hasn’t made communication more efficient for us, and we think it often robs us and you of the opportunity to step back from the moment to consider an issue, to weigh all of the factors involved, and to remember what we know about each other’s commitment to the children in our care before offering an answer or making a demand.
We’ll also rely on teacher leaders to help carry the administrative burden of managing the school day so that the Admin Team can get back in the classrooms with teachers and students more frequently and more actively. The five of us are elated by the prospect! We will model the values and philosophy of the Basic School directly by engaging more regularly in the day to day, period to period learning environment.
We’ll ask you to take a more active role in the life of our school. We need to broaden the base of a very active and dependable, but shrinking, group of ready volunteers. It might be driving for your child’s sports team or helping in a garden–even if that means rearranging your schedule for just one day. It might be stepping in to help with office work for teachers or staffing the ticket booth for a performance. It might even begin simply with making attendance at one of the State of the School presentations this year in the spring a priority. We won’t presume to name the niche that works best for your own work and family life demands, but we do know there’s a place for everyone. Whatever you choose, we are certain that once you feel better plugged into the ebb and flow of school life, you’ll also be a more informed and confident partner in your child’s education.
And, finally, we will ask you to understand that while our commitment as an Admin Team to this school community is boundless, our time is not. We love the children we serve as our own. We are quick during the school day and at school events to spend the extra minute or two or twenty it takes to give your children what they need to thrive as they grow. But we are each deeply aware of our desire to more often claim an active role in the life of our own families. We hope you will keep that very personal need in mind if we ask to keep a meeting to its planned time, if we don’t continue to reply late into evenings or through the weekend, or if we demur on a school-related question during a game or show. Please never see it as an unwillingness to serve you and your family, but rather the tug of our own families and our sense of the passing of time.
Childhood is not endless.
We are each allotted some brief time while these developing little people who are our children pass through our lives. All of us need to savor whatever time we have with them as they grow.
We do not need to agree on the details for how each of us achieves that goal.
We have only to support each other in doing it.
This summer we found our strength in each other. This year let’s help each other hang on to that shared sensibility.