Welcome to a new school year! We are excited to see our students! I am always taken aback when I see all of the growth – physically, socially, and mentally – that has occurred over the summer months. From my office window and through the glass doors in the front hallway, I watched as parents made their way to stand in line for COVID testing. Although we are still grappling with this pandemic, I felt the positive energy of joy, enthusiasm, and anticipation of a new school year! As the cars pulled up yesterday morning for the first day of school, and your wonderful children jumped onto the sidewalk, I witnessed the exciting chatter, laughter, nervous smiles, and hands clinging to the legs of parents. I was reminded of why school is so important and critical to children’s lives. This is the place where they can be with peers, teachers, and other important adults to learn the lessons of compromise, collaboration, self-reflection, and connection.
Our school year is starting with 206 students as well as a number of new teachers and staff. Last week we had our usual opening staff meetings. Julie Wilson Jungawala, a leadership coach and consultant who has been working with our School and Education leadership teams over the past year, facilitated a process of reflection about how we want to show up as our best professional selves. We spent time reflecting on what we did well individually and collectively in order to weather the storm of the pandemic. We addressed the questions, how do we bring forward our best professional selves in a year of continued uncertainty? How will we take care of ourselves, each other, and our students and families in a year that will continue to present anticipated and unanticipated challenges?
Our opening meetings were in person and took place at the Beth EL Temple auditorium. We were seated in the various teams that represent the work that we lead at FSS. Julie spread out 4"x5" pictures all over two tables. Our task was to pick a picture that would represent our best selves. I chose a picture of a Native American girl working reflectively on what appeared to be some sort of loom. I chose this picture because it represented focus and stillness while doing something with great intention and thoughtfulness. She seemed to be in a peaceful and calm space. It is how I wish to lead, even as I am awash with competing needs, interests, COVID concerns, logistics, and the like. I want to remember to slow down, to pace myself, focus, and reflect with intention on the many expected and unexpected things that will come my way so that I can show up as my best professional self. And, when I fail, which I often do, to remember to keep practicing!
Parents, what do you need in order to do your best partnering with us? How will you pace yourselves and practice self care? How can we better support your understanding of our work here at FSS, including our expertise, our concerns, and yes, our limitations? What are some ways that we can help you express your concerns and anxieties about your children in a way that demonstrates perspective taking and curiosity? There will be conflictual feelings and misunderstandings, which is the nature of our human interactions, but conflict and misunderstanding lead to opportunities to build trust, connection, new perspectives, and learning. We look forward to working and learning from and with you this school year!