The Overwhelming Beauty of Community

DAISY SAVAGE, HEAD OF UPPER SCHOOL: My husband and I are avid amateur birders. Our yard is loud with finch, sparrows, wrens, jays, cardinals, chickadees, nuthatch, and woodpeckers, and we tend our feeders as lovingly as we once fed our children. Throughout the spring and summer seasons, we come to recognize particular pairs and families. The goldfinch and cardinals in particular are lovely to watch as they live in devoted and careful monogamy.

This connection that we, as living beings, can feel towards others – and not exclusively to our ‘kind’ – is, for me, very powerful.

In the late fall and winter, the goldfinch usually move off to warmer climes, although this year they remained late: I thought I caught a glimpse of one late in February but couldn’t be sure. And then one Sunday as Tom and I trekked through the neighborhood woods and fields, we saw a telltale flash of blue: the Eastern bluebird, a certain sign of spring.

I worried for weeks afterward. Even at the moment of our joyful sighting, in 50 plus degrees of an extremely mellow February with March on the near horizon, I knew that frigid and capricious temperatures were on the way. I understand that, to some, such concern might seem trivial or even crazy. After all, birds are exceptionally smart and show incredible creativity and initiative in their instinct to survive. But what if something happened to that bluebird? I could not get it out of my mind. This connection that we, as living beings, can feel towards others – and not exclusively to our ‘kind’ – is, for me, very powerful.

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We are at our best when we are timeless

DAISY SAVAGE, HEAD OF UPPER SCHOOL: We humans have an interesting relationship with time. The way we view time and its passage depends very much upon our age. The same is true for our embrace of tradition. For those of us in the business of adolescence, we know that, for them, time can not move fast enough: our young students rush to embrace the newness and challenge of each new stage, in search of both a license to drive and in search of a license to live.

We humans have an interesting relationship with time.

We urge them to slow down, seize the moment, and they scoff and strive forward, pressing hard against the traces of our rules and traditions. They seek their own truth and their own way. Tradition belongs to someone else’s vision… Until suddenly, they see their own legacy in the wake they leave behind. And then the nature of time changes.

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Let’s Get Real with Role Models

DAISY SAVAGE – HEAD OF UPPER SCHOOL: When I was growing up, I had to sneak off to a friend’s house to play Barbies because my mother did not think such dolls were proper role models for young girls. Eleanor Roosevelt, Gloria Steinem, Amelia Earhart, those were appropriate role models! At 8-years-old, I wasn’t thinking about that; I just wanted to play dolls.

Now, of course, as an educator and a parent, I have a slightly different perspective. I still think girls and boys should be able to play with dolls, but they should also be able to play with trucks and legos, build robots, seek election to high office, fly to the moon.

We expose children to all sorts of opportunities and tell them that all things are possible, but real live “role models” are also imperative.

We expose children to all sorts of opportunities and tell them that all things are possible, but real live “role models” are also imperative. Girls need a Sally Ride and boys a Jim Henson to understand that the future is available to them no matter their race, gender, or religion.

However, there is another important ingredient. Too often our role models in the headlines reach an almost action hero status; there is an illusion that they are special. How do we help children realistically see themselves in those big shoes? How will they rise to the occasion: how should they act, how should they prepare? What should they be doing now? And what will other people think of their efforts?

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