Principal’s message May 27, 2021

I have sent out a version of this letter for the past few years.  Each time I reread it, I am reminded of how relevant it continues to be for me and my family, and hopefully you will find something in it that speaks to you, whether it’s the first time you’ve read it or the fourth or fifth.  This year, as I anticipate my retirement, I realize that even the happiest of changes can bring with them challenges and apprehensions.

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As the end of the school year looms closer, I am reminded of the challenges we all face when confronted by transitions.  No matter how much we may look forward to an ending, or a beginning, the anticipation as well as the reality is often very stressful.  Some of our discomfort stems from our own ambivalence. When my girls were growing up, we often talked about feeling “happy/sad.”  This was our way of acknowledging that curious mixture of emotions one so often feels during a transitional time – the happiness and anticipation when faced with something new combined with the sadness and sense of loss when giving up the familiar and comfortable.

Anticipating the end of a school year is always one of those happy/sad times for my family.  We’re tired, ready to be done with the routines of early bedtimes and homework.  We’re excited to think about vacation, camp, travel, lazy days at the pool or the beach.  Especially this year, when we’ve been stuck at home for a year, there is so much we are anticipating!  Yet along with those feelings is a curious sense of loss – the ending of friendships, relationships, and routines that have punctuated our days. 

I still remember the summer between  third and fourth grade when I was a child.  Someone had told me that fourth grade meant “long division.”  I had no idea what long division was, but it sounded very ominous!  I spent the summer dreading fourth grade, with the impending doom of long division.  I often wonder what demons inhabit the heads of our children, what are they anticipating, or perhaps dreading, about their new school year.

This may be a good time to start the conversation about endings and beginnings.  Talk to your children about what they will miss, and what there is to look forward to.  Give them the space to express their concerns, their fears, and their excitement.  Let them know that it’s all right to feel happy/sad about change and that you will be there to listen and share their feelings.   Life is filled with transitions, as I well know this year, and learning to navigate them comfortably is among the skills that we teach our children, and that we practice ourselves.  As I anticipate a huge transition myself, this year gives me another opportunity to practice this skill.