She came into the courtyard quietly. Her head was slightly down, and there was only the hint of a smile on her face. Clearly, there was some anxiety, some cautiousness about her, and some reluctance to breathe deeply and enjoy the moment. Then the music started. The steel drum band was in full swing, dancing and playing to the rhythms that flowed from the instruments. One by one, students got up and began to move to the music. Someone started a conga line, and another simply began to dance by himself in the middle of the courtyard. Suddenly there she was, stepping cautiously into the midst of the crowd at the invitation of a teacher, joining the dancing with the child-like spirit that infected the crowd. Then I saw it. A huge smile, some laughter, and a deep breath that allowed her to relax into the fun-filled moment. The children were laughing, bouncing, singing, moving, as if the music had become part of their soul. I watched with my own sense of joy as the students became playful children, dancing and moving with the beat of the music, simply having a great time being kids. I, too, joined in. As I looked around, from the youngest child to the oldest adult, it was a joyful sight to see smiles, laughter, dancing, and playful spirits together.
This is what I love about St. Michael’s School. Our students work hard, as do the faculty and staff. Everyone takes his or her work seriously, but at the same time we try to pause often enough simply to have fun. We are focused on academics but also are free to laugh and be silly in the moment. There is structure but flexibility. There is occasional sadness, but also a depth of compassion that touches hearts. There is space for wonder and for exploration, igniting the desire to learn more. We become community and family as friendships grow.
Each day, I am reminded of the important work that we do as I read the following statement, which hangs before me. It is affirmation for each of us who works in this place, and it describes the commitment we have to each other, young and old. It is our vocational call to the young scholars we serve. Clearly, they are our joy:
As Episcopal school leaders, we enter each day, each “crowded way of life,” not single-handedly, but with the One who has gone before and walks with us now on the road. We encounter those wounded in spirit and soul, the sad ones, the anxious ones, and for a few moments, in the humblest way possible, we are the manifestation of God to them, some Love incarnate that allows them to see more clearly and breathe a little easier. And we have done our work…for today.
Head of School