Dear Rowland Hall Families and Friends,
This school year will be my 28th and final year at Rowland Hall. As I’ve prepared to help our new head, Mick Gee, transition smoothly to our school community next year, I find myself thinking more about beginnings than endings—specifically, I’ve reflected on the ideas of welcoming and being welcomed.
When I moved to Salt Lake City and began my leadership journey at Rowland Hall, I was enthusiastically welcomed by parents, faculty, staff, students, trustees, and alumni. And it wasn’t just a week- or month-long occurrence: during my first few years as head of school, people repeatedly went out of their way to get to know me, share their ideas with me, and offer me recommendations or suggestions to aid the transition. Welcoming a new head of school is an intentional process and one that I know this community will wholeheartedly embrace with the Gee family as well.
I would like to encourage all members of our school community to reconsider what it means to be welcoming... Can it be a daily affirmation to make all people feel welcome to bring their fullest, most authentic selves to campus, without fear of judgment?
Each summer and fall, we welcome new faculty, staff, trustees, students, and families to campus, hosting events, planning orientations, and doing our best to share with them what we love about Rowland Hall. We also welcome back alumni and friends at reunions and socials, and we find ways to catch up on each other’s lives while cherishing fond memories.
These examples reflect moments when we are asked to look around and recognize those we don’t know or haven’t seen in a long time, and then do our best to reach out to them. While this kind of inclusive behavior is important, can we do more? Is welcoming people when they are new (or newly returned) to our community sufficient to claim that we, as a school, welcome everyone?
I would like to encourage all members of our school community to reconsider what it means to be welcoming. Can we think of it as an active, sustained attitude, rather than an introductory event? Can it extend to creating welcoming spaces for conversation, especially when you disagree with someone or come from different backgrounds? Can it be a daily affirmation to make all people feel welcome to bring their fullest, most authentic selves to campus, without fear of judgment or isolation?
I have witnessed extraordinary compassion and caring at Rowland Hall for the past three decades, and I truly believe we are a school that aims to welcome everyone. And yet, we can always do better. I hope you will all join me in making the extra effort this year to find new ways to be welcoming to each other—and, I hope you will recognize those who make you feel welcomed. Even the smallest gestures can have a significant impact.