Below is the letter I wrote back to the two students featured in yesterday’s post.
Wow. That is a message to frame and hang on the school walls! A beautifully written, heartfelt testimony to our Mission Statement, showing what it looks and feels like when indeed a community “celebrates and cultivates the intellectual, imaginative and humanitarian promise” of its students. Every teacher longs to know that the arrow has hit its mark, that the message we send into a future we won’t wholly see has been understood and hopefully passed on to the next future generation. Just as your words touched Steve, touched me, I’m sure they’ve touched the hearts of all the teachers who read it. Thank you so much for feeling all those feelings, expressing them so eloquently and sharing them with all of us.
Testimony from alumni, some over 50 years old, shows that they have remained “SFS to the core” their whole lives, never quite found another place (sadly) that had the sense of a community where everyone could be precisely themselves and be loved and accepted for it and learn to love and accept each other. And as you so beautifully express, a place where they can simply be “human,” with the full range of all the complex feelings you talk about. Whether you become teachers or politicians or business people or farmers or artists, whatever you become, wherever you go, whoever is by your side, we hope you bring the simple gestures of connection to your family, your workplace, your neighborhood. Make some time to sing and dance and play music together, create some art, play some games, create those little gestures of sharing when you gather, those big gestures of group celebration and rituals. When people gather at a meeting or a party or a town hall discussion, suggest or lead some “getting-to-know-you” activities at the beginning and some kind of closure or farewell at the end. Little things that have big effects.
Finally, in our school culture which spends a lot of time celebrating you (and yes, you’re worthy of every bit of it!), it is refreshing to find young people like yourself understanding the importance of thanking the elders (ie, us teachers and also your parents and other adults in your life) for the efforts they have made to help shape you into the person you are meant to be and become. It probably has never been a harder time to be a teacher and that sense of gratitude, that testimony that show you understand our hopes for you and indeed, are living them, goes a long way in inspiring us to continue.
Thank you and most certainly, please keep in touch.