A Note from Principal Tony Byers: May 2018

Dear Families,

By my estimate, Jodie and I have spent almost seven hundred days greeting students at the front door of Graham and Parks. Our primary goal is to create a welcoming atmosphere for students and families. But that’s not the only reason we stand outside the door for at least 40 minutes everyday in all weather. It takes students something like 10 seconds to get from their bus, car, or around the corner to the front door, and in those brief moments, as students make the transition from home to school, they’re often vulnerable. But I don’t mean vulnerable in the sense that they’re at risk or especially sensitive, although some are. It’s more like they’re momentarily open and easier to read, both individually and collectivity. How a child enters school can tell you a lot about where they’re coming from and how they’re about to experience their day. 

Watching students enter school, day after day, month after month, and now year after year has allowed us to pick up on patterns and to respond, when possible. When individual students seem a little off, we often pull them aside for a conversation, even if only to let them know we see them. When many students seem a little off, usually after world events take a turn for the worse or when Halloween was the night before, there isn’t much to do but provide a reassuring adult presence and wait for the other shoe to drop. You know what this feels like. It’s like when you get an uneasy feeling as everyone arrives home from school and work, like the barometric pressure is off somehow.  

And as I’m sure you’ve noticed, the seasons are related to how students feel as they transition to school. Now that we’ve experienced a day or two of spring (remember when we had four seasons?) and are now barreling towards summer-like temperatures, the collective feeling is shifting amongst our students. Apparently there’s something magical about wearing shorts. We have a few students who put on their first pair of shorts the moment the temperature cracks fifty degrees and stubbornly refuse to retreat to pants, no matter where the temperature goes from there. It’s a rebirth, I suppose. And while not every student is enjoying the transformative powers of spring, these days, we've noticed many students walking into school with a little extra spring their step, whether they’re wearing shorts or not. And while rising temperatures and summer outfits may have something to do with it, this yearly springtime transformation is really a result of their hard work, and the hard work of their teachers (and you!), throughout the fall and winter. There's work yet to be done, but it's okay, as we head into May, to step back and appreciate, just for moment, how far your children have come.