Last Sunday, I started my day by writing a simple prayer in my reflection journal:
Bless this new journey that I am about to take with my Beauvoir family. May it be a year where we can build trusting relationships and create pathways that lead us to find unique gifts in each of the individuals we meet. Let our children serve as our guides, knowing that they are always watching us closely as they learn about the people and the world around them. Let them feel our love and care as we scaffold their learning experiences with questions, curiosities, and thoughtful direction. May our students also serve to remind us of our critical importance during these formative years as trusted adults who model the Life Rules in both our words and actions. May we all be respectful, responsible, honest, and kind. Amen.
It was the day before all faculty and staff returned from their summer respite, and I could already feel it in the air. Everyone knows what it is. You can’t ignore it. The last traces of summer are upon us and the smell of a new school year is right under our noses. In my case, my calendar had already been quickly filling up with appointments as Beauvoir friends came back into town; the front foyer welcomed a daily arrival of shipments and supplies that were wheeled off to classrooms on dollies; parents began dropping by to get a sneak peek at some of the new changes that took place in the building over the summer; and teachers arrived early in the day and departed late in the afternoon, eager to get a head start on setting up the classroom for their students. There was an abundance of anticipatory excitement all around me, and I longed to bottle it up and capture this heady feeling for the year ahead. As both an educator and a parent, I know all too well how quickly life speeds up and challenges our ability to appreciate the moments that fuel us. But I think we owe it to ourselves—and more importantly, our children—to find every opportunity to do so.
For the past two months, as I settled into my new office and prepared for the first day of school, my attention has been drawn frequently to an interesting object that was present when I arrived. Nestled underneath the conference table, directly in the center of the four table legs, is a small, wooden, antique children’s chair. I have since come to learn that this chair carries great meaning, as it is one of few remaining Beauvoir heirlooms from our earliest years “high on Mt. Saint Alban.” Folklore has it that it is one of the original children’s chairs from the school’s founding and has remained a treasured artifact of ours over the years. While taking a closer look, one may even notice traces of what might have been pencil etchings carved into the chair by a former student in the 1930s, perhaps wondering what would happen when sharp objects meet wood. I will admit that the curiosities of childhood have not changed much over the past eighty-five years.
At some point in Beauvoir’s recent history, someone took the time to place this delicate artifact directly beneath the conference table in the Head of School’s office. When I first noticed it, I was immediately struck by the powerful message it conveyed: “The students are always at the center of our work.” As I think about the significance of these words, the many new faces that we are preparing to greet next week, the dedication and hard work of our faculty and staff, and the generosity of our families and board members, I cannot help but acknowledge how blessed we are to be members of an Episcopal school grounded in what I feel are the most important years in an individual’s life. Every single decision we make is mission-aligned and focused on what is best for children during their most formative years. The needs and interests of our students drive our curriculum, with teachers lending their skillful expertise and staying abreast of current research as they put their knowledge into practice. Keeping each student at the center of our work allows us to create the unique learning opportunities and lasting memories a Beauvoir education affords.
And so, as we return next week to a year full of promise, learning discoveries, and new relationships, may each of us use this Beauvoir chair as a gentle reminder to put the child at the heart of all our decisions. “Let our children serve as our guides… Let them feel our love and care… May we all be respectful, responsible, honest, and kind. Amen.”
Mrs. Cindi Gibbs-Wilborn
Head of School