Head of School Blog

Letting Gratitude Light the Way

Jill Singleton
Despite the weather becoming cold, and the light beginning to dim, November is a special month for me. It reminds me to take stock of the many blessings in my life, and engage in a practice of self reflection that I cannot seem to make time for during the year. During the month of November, all students are exploring the theme of Gratitude and Abundance in our Community Time classes and as our spiritual focus. Some of the ideas and concepts students are exploring this month include joy, unconditional love, needs vs. wants, simplicity, gratitude, and of course, family, friends and community.

What is our Community Time Assembly and Mid-Month Gathering all about, you might ask? A parent reported to me this week that she asked her child this very question, and the answer she got really captures the essence beautifully: “(the Gathering) is where we celebrate the gifts in our community, and (the Community Time Assembly) is where we take care of our inner light.” Based on that profound insight, I’d say that our new spirituality initiative is really having an impact.

At our Mid-Month Gathering this week, a beautiful Flag of Blessings adorned the altar area. Made out of student-created cards indicating the things for which students are most grateful, this flag was a wonderful testament to the spiritual lives and “inner light” that shines within our students. While one might expect to see toys and iPads topping the list, I was so tickled to see the variety and depth of their responses, a sampling of which follows:

• Family and friends
• Home and school
• Pets and animals
• My community
• Girl Scouts
• Nice parents
• Teachers
• God
• Medicine
• Mistakes
• The memory of pets who have died
• Sandwich squad
• Love
• Being alive
• The chance to donate candy to the troops in Afghanistan
• My mind
• Thanksgiving at my house
• Health
• Living in a war-free community
• Getting many opportunities that others don’t
• (And my personal favorite…) Going to the best school in the world!

Students also learned a little bit about Louie Schwartzberg, an award-winning Swiss filmmaker who has been called “a messenger from nature.” In a breathtaking video, Schwartzberg reminds us of the abundance of beauty in our lives, and of the only appropriate response to this beauty: gratitude. Please take five minutes to experience his work: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2egMSliB8DE

Finally, as is our custom at the Mid-Month Gathering, students sang the Shaker song “Simple Gifts,” followed by the giving, receiving and celebration of a number of special gifts. Here is a sampling of the gifts given:

• Eighth Graders made a thank you card for Dr. Sharon Stern of Gentle Dental, who sponsored the shipping of 178 pounds of Halloween Candy to the men and women in our Armed Forces in Afghanistan.
• First Grader Molly Brigden gave Ms. Therres three art books to add to her collection.
• Ms. Berhaupt and I gave each class a battery-operated candle to use when conducting the Examen in their classrooms, and a mini gong for ringing when saying the daily affirmation.
• First Graders made cards of appreciation for all of the staff, as well as for the Seventh Grade for coming in to read to them last week.
• The Service Club gave each class a compost jar that will be collected each week as part of our school composting program, and announced that they are working on plans to respond to the suffering in the Philippines as a result of the typhoon.
• Students were acknowledged for bringing in their summer reading books for reuse next year, and for their donation of 123 pairs of shoes to Soles4Souls.

I was personally touched that so many parents joined us for Gathering, and it is our hope that parents will be able to join us each month. Mark your calendars now for next month’s gathering on Tuesday, December 10, 8:30am in the church. Come spend 30 minutes with us before heading off to work – you might just surprise others with the warm glow of your “inner light” on the subway.

Comments? Thoughts? Ideas? I’d love to hear them! Email me: jsingleton@allsaintshoboken.com