We are looking forward to seeing you soon. The floors have been stripped and waxed, the rugs shampooed, the furniture cleaned, and we are completing our summer renovation project. We are getting our house in order for a new school year!
We began our opening meetings with a reading from Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book, Mindfulness for Beginners: Reclaiming the Present Moment and Your Life. I shared the following passage, “In a beginner’s mind, there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s, there are few. Beginners come to new experiences not knowing so much and therefore open. The openness is very creative. It is an innate characteristic of the mind. The trick is never to lose it. That would require that you stay in the ever emerging wonder of the present moment, which is always fresh. Of course, you will lose a beginner’s mind in one way when you cease to be a beginner. But if you can remember from time to time that each moment is fresh and new, just maybe, what you know will not get in the way of being open to what you don’t know, which is always a larger field. Then a beginner’s mind will be available in any moment you are open to it.” We spoke with colleagues at our respective tables to listen to interpretations of the passage and discuss the implications for how we want to show up for our students, colleagues, and parents.
Our opening week also included new staff orientation, followed by spending most of Tuesday at the Beth EL auditorium reconnecting and participating in a workshop led by Dr. Jennifer Bryan. In the workshop, Dr. Bryan focused on how to support gender expansive and exploring students. On Wednesday, Jennifer Hawkins, our math consultant, led us in a full day of training on implementing the new Illustrative math program. Thursday was all about nuts and bolts, such as EpiPen training and the like. Teachers are setting up their classrooms between meetings and leaving no stone unturned as they plan for the new school year.
I have been thinking about how Jennifer Bryan opened her presentation by asking the simple question, “how are you?” What feelings are you bringing at the start of the school year? We talked about our hopes, fears, and worries. We imagine that this school year will be fraught with the residue of political, religious, global, medical, social, and national disruptions, which will seep into our school walls and the hearts and minds of our community. We know that education is being targeted by people and institutions that wish to control the narrative of our history and what schools should teach, by whitewashing information that makes us question, analyze, and think, all with the purpose of comfort, homogeneity, and power hoarding. This is a scary time in the life of our nation.
As we move closer to the first day of school, we are doubling down on living our mission, and it is my sincere hope that you will continue partnering closely with Fayerweather as we work to connect the hearts and minds of our community. See you on Wednesday!