The One About Playing the Long Game

On Oct. 25, I sent an email to the Sandy Spring Friends School community reiterating a simple message: We are family. Today, Oct. 29, after the events of last week and over the weekend, I am moved to write again–like last time and the time before that and the time before that–to say that our School and the community that sprung up around it and that nurtures it and is nurtured by it, is a beloved community.

Sometimes, when I close my eyes and visualize Sandy Spring Friends School, I see a tree with wide branches that welcomes all. In good times, under the canopy, we can be noisy, boisterous, playful, welcoming and courageous. In not-good-times, under the same canopy, there is space to be reflective, confused and disappointed. We can be in shock. But we will always be welcoming, and we will always be courageous.

We are in the business of preschool, primary, and secondary education. In this business, we play the long game. We prepare students, including our youngest (members of the class of 2032) to become leaders in a world that is interconnected like never before. This fact, that we are interconnected, creates peril and creates opportunity.

We want our kids to be healthy, content, wise, generous, practical, and adaptable. We want the education they receive at Sandy Spring Friends School to support all of those things. So we teach them how to learn by giving them tools that will never be obsolete, by igniting their curiosity and by listening; because that is the best way for them to discover the great natural talent within themselves and that GNT can be unleashed to beautiful effect.

When we send our kids to Sandy Spring Friends School, they meet strangers who will become friends, some for their whole lives. We meet people we learn to love and people we find disagreeable. Now, when I close my eyes and visualize Sandy Spring Friends School, I see a marketplace full of amazing people, with different ideas, different languages, different perspectives. In this marketplace, we are free to be ourselves, to do original work, to consider difficult problems, and to increase our understanding in small and big ways.

This is incredibly vital work that doesn’t stop when we move on, or receive a diploma, or earn a degree or land a job for the first time (or second or third), and it doesn’t stop when our students are old enough to have students of their own. The work that our students begin at Sandy Spring Friends School supports the foundation on which true leadership is built: the capacity to listen and to understand; the vital importance of treating others with dignity and respect; the discernment to find a sustainable balance between the needs of today and of the future, between consumption and conservation, between the rights of the individual and the importance of community.

Peace,

Tom

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