by Melanie Leggett, Director of Admissions
One thing that I often say on tours is that the future is unknown for our kids, but that no matter what happens, a strong social emotional foundation will help our kids be successful in any future. As I’ve said those words over and over for years, I didn’t anticipate us all being thrust into that uncertain future so soon, or so abruptly. But here we are. And I am finding that those words hold true. In these uncertain times, one thing I am certain of is that the social emotional knowledge that I have gained and practiced during my time at Friends is helping me get through this. Here are just a few Friends “lessons” that have been resonating with me:
Gratitude: Historically, Friends has chosen a school-wide theme each year to help promote connection across all grades and divisions. The year before I started, that theme was gratitude. It was so successful, that it continued on into the next year…and the next, and has become inextricably wound into our school’s culture. This gratitude practice at Friends has led me (and I know many in our community) to find a moment each day to reflect on what we are grateful for. Even during this shut down, these reflections (for me: spring arriving, the gift of more time to spend with my daughter, my incredible neighbors) have helped brighten my spirits.
All Feelings Are Welcome: This Friends preschool phrase should probably just be the world-wide slogan for this time period. I’m so grateful (there’s that phrase again!) to have a community where we are taught to hold space for people to really feel things. To be part of an admin staff that spends part of each meeting talking about how we are feeling, and more importantly, how our students, teachers, and parents are feeling and how we can best support them. This phrase has supported me as a parent as I’ve watched my daughter roll on the ground crying that “she just wants to go to the places!” after I’ve explained to her that the pool is still closed. I’m so glad our teachers have taught me to hug her, to empathize, and to let her feel those feelings. I know we will come through this healthier on the other side if we let ourselves acknowledge how hard it is.
Resiliency: The ability to be resilient – to withstand adversity and bounce back and grow despite life’s downturns, is one of the threads that runs through all of our programs. I see it discussed, practiced, and thoughtfully woven into curriculum in all divisions. What a time to practice resiliency that we are in. In the words of preschool teacher Jessie Vanden Hogen “We are certainly bouncing like a ball vs. falling flat like a bean bag as we are trying to beresilient!Building resiliency is a process not an endgame. It is not that we fall into the gutter, it’s that we hop back on that bowling lane!”. The power of “yet” that we always talk about at Friends has felt like a balm to me during this time. Our buildings aren’t open – yet. We can’t see our friends – yet. But we will! The day will come!
These lessons barely skim the surface of the deep well of Friends SEL practices that I am drawing from each day. I could go on for pages about community, mindfulness, love, and more. I hope that you are finding that you are bolstered by Friends in some way as we get through this together. If you or your family need anything, please reach out to Friends. Send me an email (email@example.com), and I will funnel it to the right person. We miss you and love you Friends families.