May 17, 2018

So Long Friends School! Thank You For Everything!

This entry marks the end of this particular road.  This week I tender my 250th and final weekly blog for our school community. It’s time to share one more reflection, a few final thoughts, before taking the next few days to say farewell and move along.

There are so many things that this amazing school does well.  Transitions are just one of them.  Our teachers implicitly understand that we all need to walk with care through life’s transitions.  Leaving one place behind and walking through a new door is not always easy.

And now the moment is here for my own transition from Friends School. My younger daughter Leah graduates from high school tomorrow in Denver and will soon fly from the nest. Steph and I are off on a new adventure of our own in the Pacific Northwest, where we will call West Seattle home.

Graduation is always a bittersweet moment for all of us – for kids, for educators, and for parents.  We knew that this day would come when we have to let our children go a little bit more and they have to step away from us into something new.  

As I consider our Friends graduates – the Pre-K kids who crossed their bridge yesterday into Kindergarten, the 5thgraders who ring the bell next week as they journey into middle school, and our first ever class of 7thgraders who will become high schoolers a year from now – I know that this school and my colleagues here have taught them well.  

We have taught them the value of growing up in a community that supports and loves them. We have taught them how to make and keep friends, and if that friendship runs its course, how to continue to be kind. We have taught them to be sensitive and caring of our environment. We have taught them that learning is for life and there are ten different ways to do a math problem. We have taught them to respect each of our differences and to understand that diversity makes our community a healthier place. We have taught them that messy is ok. We have taught them that education is a journey.

Now, as I consider my own ‘graduation’ from Friends School after seven magical years, I know in my heart that this school and the people here have taught me a thing or two as well.

You have taught me what a joyful place school can be.  You have shown me that the process is more important than the product.  You have reminded me of the importance of play. You have helped me continue to understand what it means to be a lifelong learner. You have surrounded me with color and creativity, laughter and friendships.  

And I’ve got to know one other thing here. One truly important, remarkable thing.
            
Twenty-eight years in progressive education including seven years at Friends, and I think I’ve finally got that one thing figured out.  

I know myself.  

This school does an inspirational job of helping people know who they are.  

The schools I attended when I was a kid taught me what to think, where to stand, and how to fit into the crowd.  I’m thrilled that the children here have been given this opportunity to know themselves and take their own place in their ever-widening world.
            
As I head away from Friends, I encourage every one of us to keep with us everything we’ve learned at this school.  

I challenge you, when it’s your turn to leave this place, to be kind and stand up for yourself and others. I challenge you to self-advocate and be a great team-builder. I challenge you to be an outstanding contributor to your community. I challenge you to see the beauty in our world and to use your talents and skills to add to it. Whatever your passion, I challenge you to pursue it with energy and spirit and enthusiasm. 
 
Go out there and be the best that you can be.  And do it with love.
            
I know that we all go forward with the love and light of this community surrounding and embracing us, as we sing:

“Make new friends and keep the old
One is silver and the other gold
A circle is round
It has no end
That’s how long I will be your friend”

Thank you to my colleagues, to the parents, and of course to the children - for everything!



Steve has been Head of School at Friends from July 2011 to June 2018. He will become Head of School at Westside School in Seattle, Washington on July 1. He can continue to be reached at stevegdebeer@gmail.com or through his website stevedebeer.com

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