The last time I saw many of our students and families, it was June 5, Graduation Day for the Class of 2019. I remember being on stage that day thinking a lot about the moments unfolding all around me. To my right were soon-to-be graduates, many of whom had been at St. Anne’s for a decade and were realizing that in a few minutes they would be walking out of the gates of this school for the final time as a student. Out in the audience, parents and lower school faculty were reminiscing, thinking of moments from these same students’ first days of kindergarten, wondering how they got so big so fast! Meanwhile, I was on stage taking it all in while also nervously eyeing the door to Ms. Buckley’s office, thinking, “At any given moment, Ms. Buckley will run out and wave her hands at me like she is on fire to let me know that my wife called. She was going into labor, and I needed to leave the stage mid-ceremony.”
As it turned out, baby Bodhin Rama Bhat had impeccable timing and held out through the ceremony, arriving 24 hours later on the first official day of summer vacation. Throughout the summer, my wife and I found ourselves cherishing many moments as a family of four. Moments like when my three year old son, Rowan, met his baby brother in the hospital for the first time after only knowing him as the thing hiding in Mommy’s belly. (Snake was the name he was sure would be given to his brother for some reason). The boys likely won’t remember their first encounter, but the truth is I will forever remember the connection I felt as a family while I watched the beginning of their relationship. Over the summer, there have been elevating moments for us like Bodhin sharing his first smiles, or the boys being dressed in cute matching outfits (a fate that has been sealed for them for years). But there were also moments of chaos, such as when my older son Rowan was taking steps back in his potty training while Bodhin was being inconsolable no matter what we tried. But those moments were invariably followed by laughter and insights of how we survived and moved forward, gaining confidence that maybe the two of us actually had some idea what we were doing as parents.
As we sit at the doorstep of the ’19-20 school year, I am looking forward to all of our students embracing the moments ahead for each of them where they will feel proud, get connected to others, be thrown into chaos, and learn about themselves and others.
Perhaps they will have a moment when they discover a love for a certain genre of books or a geometry concept that they would never have anticipated enjoying.
With our 8’s rock climbing next week, I am sure there will be moments on the rock wall where some are nervous but ultimately put their trust in the hands of others in ways that will build connections throughout the class and set the tone for the year.
Moments like these can sneak up on our students and feel unexpected.
But some moments will actually be the product of hard work and perseverance, one of our core values in the middle school.
For example, I always love watching when one of our sixth graders gets a serve over in a volleyball game for the first time after working hard in practice and PE time and again.
As a math teacher, I always relished the moments when a student learned how going to seek me out for even five minutes at study hall/bloc can save them half an hour of spinning wheels on homework problems.
Then there are the moments I look forward to most as a member of this St. Anne’s community. These are the moments when faculty and students intentionally take action that creates meaningful moments of pride or connection for others.
I remember a moment last year when an 8th grader noticed a younger student who took a risk to try a sport they had never had any experience with before. They made sure on the first day to offer encouragement and give them some pointers. It made the difference for that sixth-grader in their sense of belonging and self-confidence in a way that the eighth-grader may never really grasp.
Our middle school faculty truly love middle school kids and understand the power of moments, whether they are designing an element of surprise to open a lesson, jumping into a game at St. Anne’s in the Hills, or catching a student off guard with a compliment about their effort in a drama performance or basketball game that they made time to watch. As a teacher, we don’t always know the moments that make the biggest impact, and I value that our faculty appreciate that fact and approach each day with the energy to create moments and experiences for our kids.
As I talked this morning with kids about ways to create moments for others, I shared that there will come a moment for us all this year when a friend of ours is struggling. In that moment when they come to us, I urge them to consider the impact that can be had simply by listening, hearing, and affirming the feelings the other person is having, rather than jumping to give advice or solve problems for them. Those aforementioned responses are well-intentioned, but as I think back to tough times in my own life, I don’t always remember exactly what was said to me in important moments, but I remember how people made me feel by how they listened and were present.
So, here’s to having a year filled with wonderful moments of pride and joy for your families, but also to a year of us supporting one another through the moments that will be challenging and the opportunities for growth!
Head of Middle School