WELCOME BACK TO SCHOOL
From the Principal
The steamy, hot and humid summer we have had plays tricks on the mind and we think the summer will go on and on! However, the shortening days, the turn of the calendar and the Back-to-School flyers and posters filling mailboxes and store fronts remind us that the cool days and changing leaves that signal the start to a new school year are coming soon. The first day of school is just around the corner.
My summer was filled with family and friends, plus time spent with grandchildren and, therefore, filled with delight. As I think about the new school year about to unfold, I think about our children. About their education. About the relationships we will forge, and the partnerships we will create with you in the service of their education. This summer I saw a movie that inspired me deeply, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” about Fred Rogers and his long running show, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood on Children’s Television Network. I am reminded of some of his messages that make this a beautiful day in our neighborhood.
Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood is a place where everyone is welcome, everyone is unique, and everyone is considered. Siwanoy is a small neighborhood school. Our school community is our neighborhood. We nurture it, informed by our commitment that everyone is welcome and everyone belongs. Siwanoy’s PTA, Site Based Council, and Diversity Committee are active parent/staff groups that carry on this work. During the school day we nurture our neighborhood through our classroom teaching, our Town Meetings, and through our student government. It is the partnerships we form with each of you that allow us to create this neighborhood. Please know that we want to hear from you, both when things are going well or when there is work to be done.
Look for the helpers. Mr. Rogers’ mother told him that when things weren’t going right he should look for the helpers, there would always be helpers. Our goal is for each Siwanoy student to have at least one trusted adult, someone at school whom they trust to share their worries, questions, or problems. I know that many children will wait until being tucked in at night to share, with a parent, their concerns. While it is always better to address issues when they happen, please let us know if your child has shared something that we need to address. Help your child identify their helpers at school. A neighborhood can have disagreements. There will always be conflict when there is a diverse group of people, in close quarters, with different opinions, and different ways of approaching life.
Accept and expect mistakes. “The most important learning is the ability to accept and expect mistakes, and to deal with the disappointments that they bring." You may have heard the research by Carol Dweck on growth and fixed mindsets. Teaching our children that learning comes with failure is critical to their academic, social, and emotional growth. We, the adults in their lives, will be there to take care of the hurt and the disappointments. These are huge growth opportunities.
What do you do with the mad that you feel? Mr. Rogers treated children as fully formed humans capable of the full range of human emotions. He said, ”Children have very deep feelings just the way parents do, just the way everybody does, and our striving to understand those feelings and to better respond to them is what I feel is the most important task in our world.” Pelham’s Strategic Plan’s third pillar is to “foster the social and emotional development of all students to...support every learner’s growth and success.” Mr. Rogers clearly recognized that children have feelings that need to be heard, that need an outlet, and the children need tools for problem solving. At Siwanoy, our teachers, our support staff, and I continue to strive to understand each child, to listen in a way that helps them talk and work through the issues that concern them at any moment. Children learn best when their social and emotional needs are met.
Be kind. Mr. Rogers believes this is at the heart of how we treat each other. At Siwanoy, we instil in our students the principle of “choosing kind.” It may be the most important message of all.
The last verse of Won’t You Be My Neighbor begins “Let’s make the most of this beautiful day.”
Well, let’s make the most of this beautiful year. Happy 2018/2019!