Dear Parents and Guardians,
The start of another school year energizes all of us, from first-grade students entering the Lower School to long-time educators like myself. We find joy in making new friends and reuniting with those we missed over the summer. We eagerly anticipate what we will learn, knowing we may face challenges that will help us grow. We set goals, establish routines, plan events, and share our hopes for the year ahead.
One of the most commonly shared hopes among parents is for our children to be happy. However, if you asked a group of people what happiness looks like for their children, their responses would undoubtedly vary. Over the past decade, scientific research on how to live a happy life has shown that specific mindsets and behaviors, such as giving thanks and being generous towards others, help cultivate feelings of happiness. This knowledge is exciting and empowering to us as educators— it means that we can introduce these concepts to students at an early age, making them more likely to develop lifelong habits of happiness.
To that end, we kicked off the school year last Friday at our opening Convocation on the Steiner Campus athletic fields with these exact themes: be kind, be generous, and express gratitude for the good in your lives. Alumnus Brad Williams ’89 spoke about the impact Rowland Hall had on him, even though he only attended for his senior year, and shared a lesson he learned at the time: you never have too little to give. Student Body President Celia Davis gave thanks for the educational opportunities Rowland Hall affords and the inclusive nature of our community. Ryan Hoglund, director of ethical education, recommended noticing the small things that bring us joy and keeping a gratitude journal. He also challenged everyone to practice three random acts of kindness or generosity within the next week.
I left Convocation feeling inspired—as I do every year—and particularly grateful to be leading a school where no one takes our supportive culture for granted. I hope that we can all continue to practice gratitude and generosity throughout the year, especially when facing challenges or feeling overwhelmed. I encourage you to talk to your children about what you’re grateful for, and find ways to use your time and talents together to give back to the community. It will only make our student’s educational journeys all the more joyful.
I wish you and your family a wonderful school year.
P.S. If you’ve never attended Convocation before, I invite you to join us next fall. The event always takes place on the first Friday of the school year, and it is a wonderful tribute to the strength of our community.