Head of School Weekly Email: Gratitude, Compassion, Respect & Kudos
November 24, 2021
Dear TA Students, Families, and Staff,
Here are a few reflections and reminders as we head into the holiday weekend. I wish for everyone some time in the coming days for rest, connection, and joy.
Student gratitude cards have been adorning our school hallways throughout November. They are a mix of serious, whimsical, silly, and heartfelt. Common themes include being grateful for one’s pets, family, friends, and TA teachers and staff. Many also reference life’s essential basics, like food and shelter. Hobbies, musical instruments, a favorite car, springtime, vaccines, and being back in school in person also made the list this year. Thank you, students, for sharing your expressions of gratitude – and doing so in a public way that provided a daily inspired reminder for our school community.
Fostering Compassion & Civility
An important charge we have as a school community is to foster compassion for others and a civil exchange of ideas and views. In classrooms and advisories, in clubs and teams, in the formal and informal interactions we have on campus everyday, we encourage students to listen carefully to one another, to respond thoughtfully, and to seek to understand other perspectives. We model the school values of care, cooperation, and respecting diversity. We were reminded in recent days of how important this work is, of its ongoing nature, and, at times, how challenging it can be. We had students choosing to express their personal, social and political views on campus, represented with a variety of flags on display, and tensions mounted among some students as differing perspectives and displays were perceived as attacks on other groups. Our job as a school community is to take a completely different path than many pockets in our society right now that are engaging in divisive and hateful speech and actions – and to practice being civil, respectful, and committed to finding common ground.
Another important charge we have as a school community is to draw the line when individuals or groups are targeted by others. Political discourse and displays are a welcome feature of freedom of expression at TA and in our country – but attacking others is not. There is no place for homophobic, racist, or hateful sentiments directed toward individuals or groups, either in person or online. Our school rules and student handbook are designed to communicate expectations, set boundaries, and outline consequences for times when behavior is not acceptable. A team of us at TA – including faculty members Derek Burkins and Casey Huling, our dean of students Siobhan Lopez, and myself – recorded a short video message this afternoon to communicate these and other related points, which we invite students and families to watch over the long weekend: LINK to VIDEO.
Signing Off with Kudos
- to 10th grader Ailia Hedgepeth for winning the poetry slam last Friday
- to the TA robotics team, with representatives from all grades 7-12, for another big competition
- to our fall athletes who made all-star rosters: Madelyn Durkee, Ava Hadyen, Annie Hesser, Ben Mattern, Brady Sloop, Tobin Durham, Elliott Jones, Kiran Black, Madi Powers
- to the cast and crew of the fall drama performances of ‘The Visit’ last weekend
- to our food service team Dawn and Betty for cooking up an awesome Thanksgiving meal for the school lunch today
Carrie Brennan, Head of School
Featured photo: A sample of the many gratitude cards hanging in the TA hallways.