The opening of school is always an exciting and rewarding time for me. While I definitely enjoy the relaxed pace of summer, as August winds down I look forward to the gradual return of teachers who come to prepare their rooms and, ultimately, the arrival of the students who enliven the school with their energy and enthusiasm. As I lay awake last Wednesday night, I reflected upon the fact that the next morning would be my 48th consecutive First Day of School, including my years first as a student and then as a teacher. I don’t think I’ve had a bad one yet, and Thursday definitely kept that streak alive.
My day started outside of the Noel-Baker Building with Pre-K and Kindergarten children who were pleased to find their names chalked on the walkway. The eager anticipation that they must have been feeling was evident on their faces as they entered with their parents in tow and happily found their way to the classrooms. I stopped by the Parent Association’s Coffee to greet the parents who had gathered there after successfully seeing their children off to the classrooms. Judging by the vibrant conversations in the room, they were excited for the first day of school as well, happily reconnecting with each other and welcoming parents who are new to the school.
Next, I joined grades 2-8 in the meetinghouse for meeting for worship — a very appropriate and meaningful way to start the school year together. Teacher Peter shared a message that compared the students venturing into the new year with Monarch butterflies emerging from their chrysalises. It took quite a while for the meetinghouse to empty at the rise of meeting, as students greeted their friends in other grades and sought out hugs and high fives with teachers they had not yet seen.
I spent the rest of the morning visiting classrooms and happened upon the third grade just after they had read a book about feelings and were discussing the various emotions they were experiencing. You won’t be surprised to learn that they had a range of feelings from happy and excited to nervous and curious. When I checked in with the third grade at the end of the day, some of them reported that they now felt confident and proud. I can’t think of a more affirming end to the first day!
As I reflect upon my journey through the first day of school here at FSMH, the words welcoming and comfortable best describe what I observed and experienced. These are vital elements for creating an environment in which students feel safe and known which, in turn, is the best foundation for their academic and social growth. This is the “fertile learning environment” that our mission calls for and which, I am sure, will give every student reason to feel confident and proud!
This blog post was written by Matthew Bradley, Interim Head of School.