Most mornings during the week, I try to be front and center, greeting the students and parents as the day begins. Behind each child comes the backpack, loaded with homework, projects, lunches, and the supplies of the day. Some are light in weight, others are overloaded and much too heavy to carry alone. Some carry completed homework and assignments. Others hold something incomplete, crumpled up, or forgotten in the complexity of the previous evening. Often these backpacks are symbolic of what our students, and sometimes teachers, carry into the day. So what’s in your backpack today?
As I look into the faces of our students, from the smallest to the oldest, as well as those of the teachers filing into classrooms each morning, I sense that the weighty backpacks sometimes carry more than just the work for the day. What might those backpacks hold? What are the concerns for the day? Are they worried about a test or quiz? Was there a “meltdown” the night before over a challenging assignment? Was a classmate less than kind the day before? Did the team lose a big game, or is there excitement over a hard-fought victory? Did a lesson go as planned, or was the presentation not to a teacher’s liking? Was a teacher awake during the night, concerned for a student, searching for yet another way to help him or her reach success? These are some examples of the “big rocks” in our backpacks that we symbolically carry. Sometimes we come in with light hearts, and other times we feel the weight of our concerns.
As a community, we work to build relationships with one another, both in the classrooms, offices, and school community as well as when we leave to go out beyond our walls. We reach out to get to know one another, listening and sharing our stories both in good times and bad. We celebrate the victories and defeats, successes and failures, times of agreement and times when our opinions differ. This is representative of community…our community…and I wouldn’t have it any other way. St. Michael’s, though not always a perfect place, is a place of compassion and a place of relationships. It is a place where we try to know each child, each family, and each other, presenting a model in which we strive to be kind, to understand, to do our best, and to begin again when we stumble and fall. We learn from each other along the way and know that when tomorrow morning comes, together we will begin again. As an Episcopal community, as stated in a prayer our staff often shares, “we enter each day, not single-handedly, but with the One who has gone before and walks with us now on the road.” And we breathe deeper with that knowledge, carrying our backpacks along the way.
Head of School