I have long been a believer in the power of gratitude. Unfortunately, though, my tendency to fall asleep within minutes of walking into my bedroom has foiled all of my attempts at keeping a gratitude journal. I recently read about this one time end-of-year gratitude reflection and immediately wanted to try it.
The idea is to reflect on five favorite moments in the past year. While I plan on doing this for my personal life once winter break starts in a few days, I figured I would try it first with five moments from my year of work at MTS. Before the list, though, a note on the process. This was a hard task! There are so many moments and people who have made 2018 a fabulous year at Mount Tamalpais School. It was quite hard winnow it down to five.
Alas, here are five of my favorite moments from 2018 at Mount Tamalpais School.
1. Community Day. One day last spring, the 1st graders opened “stores” in their homeroom as part of their social studies curriculum. I loved buying homemade items from students and still have a “Be Kind!” button purchased that day on my desk. This moment also stands out as it was a new project for first grade during a year in which the first grade teachers – and all of their colleagues – were already doing so much new curriculum. The moment reminds me of how all of our teachers work so hard to push our program forward.
2. Hiking The Island. I was able to do quite a bit of hiking with MTS students in 2018. Dave Baker and I walked with a group of 8th graders from MTS to Muir Beach, and I hiked at least a mile with all three of this fall’s Yosemite groups. Amidst this stiff competition – I love to hike – was the walk I took up to the top of Angel Island with a handful of middle schoolers on our annual trip to Angel Island. The hike, and the discussion of do-it-yourself YouTubers, reminded me of my days as a summer camp counselor, when I first realized my love for working with children.
3. Back to School. As many of you know, this is my first year as both Head of School and parent – with Harrison in kindergarten. With that transition has come a number of wonderful moments. I will not describe Harrison “learning” to Hula Hoop from Marcia, but instead share the incredible feeling of pride I experienced when Robin and I walked home from Curriculum Night. Robin, a discerning, career-long early elementary teacher, told me how thrilled she was with every aspect of the MTS program we had seen that night. While I had always been confident in what we offer, it was so gratifying to have that feeling validated. We both could not be happier to have our son at MTS.
4. Lunchtime Conversation. When I can, I like to eat with teachers gathered in the third grade homeroom. Earlier this fall, I joined the faculty mid-lunch and sat down with my salad. As I tuned into the conversation, I heard the lower school humanities teachers talking Readers and Writers Workshop. One teacher asked for older students to “partner read” with their younger students. Others talked about “trading units” to better align with the social studies curriculum. Organic conversation about curriculum over lunch – few things could make me more proud!
5. Let Me Help You Fling That Ball. We have had a lot of STEM in 2018. With the new 5th and 6th grade STEM course, Try It Truck last winter, and K-4 Engineering at school this year, there have been plenty of wonderful STEM moments. The STEM moment that stands out for me occurred during our STEM Fest. I walked by the 5th grade homeroom and saw our older students sitting on the floor helping a score of younger students use the robots to fling ping-pong balls at a hoop. More impressive than the robots – they were quite accurate – was the warm, caring way our middle school students looked after our younger visitors to campus. Over 150 families came to campus that day and experienced our wonderful middle school students mentoring and teaching STEM skills.
If you have a quiet thirty minutes in the weeks ahead, I encourage you to try the Five Favorite Moments exercise. It was both fun and fulfilling to flip through the MTS photo archive as well as my calendar, reliving these moments of the year.
- ANDREW DAVIS