Friends School of Minnesota head of school Lili Herbert shares some thoughts about community in her weekly newsletter message to FSM parents. She reminds us that community at its best is inclusive and supportive of every member. However, she also notes that community can be very challenging. Community sometimes requires us to be more tolerant, forgiving, and open to change in ourselves and others.
Dear Friends School of Minnesota Parents,
I think some of you may have seen the recent item floating around Facebook that purports to be a letter from a teacher to parents about “that child.” While some of these postings can be trite, or sappy, (and this one is at risk of that), under the schmaltzy wrapping is usually a truth. The teacher appeals to parents to deeply understand rather than be critical and dismissive of “that child” and writes about all the things he/she wishes could be shared about “that child.”
This is a wish I have for us as a community as well. At Friends School of Minnesota, we hold community as a core value. We celebrate community, and you (parents) indicate every time we do a constituent survey, that community is a really important reason you chose FSM for your family. I know we all care about community. And sometimes that is easy to do. When we gather for community celebrations like picnics or MLK, or when we watch our students perform a play, or share poetry, or sing, we feel the positive impact of community. And other times it is hard. When some students use mean behavior, when some students feel left out, and when some students regularly misbehave in class, it is easy to see these as problems that are separate from community.
I think we lose a tremendous and critical opportunity if we do that. From my unique seat, I could tell you so many stories about what children are dealing with that I think may surprise some of you. I have seen over and over again how Friends School of Minnesota has served as the steady, nurturing place of peace for a child whose family is in turmoil. And I have seen tears of gratitude from parents for our ability to be that place. I have also seen the great gift it is to our students to be part of a real community, with all its bumps and warts. What our children learn in terms of empathy, developing boundaries, speaking up, talking to, and most importantly, in terms of allowing others to change is invaluable. The opportunity to learn to forgive is priceless.
So as we head in to our “mid-year stretch” I ask us all to remember the foundation of our school’s Quaker identity: there is that of God within each person. If we seek to remember that, to look for that, to assume that, we can experience the full richness of community.
Lili Herbert, Head of School