October 2018… Update on an archived HEADline… it bears repeating!
I wrote the HEADline below two years ago around this time of year. Dr. Carl Glickman and his writing on ceremony and tradition came back to my mind again last week as we celebrated almost a decade of Constitution Day rallies on our campus Quad… a tradition indeed! Our traditions, symbols, and ceremonies are part of the fiber of a Wood Acres education, yet it behooves us to ponder if they really make a difference to our students and their families?
To answer that question, another sage writing of Dr. Glickman came to mind- his work on sightings- formal and informal, negative and positive- as to whether what a school does matters. Formal observations abound in any educational setting- planned class observations, scheduled team meetings, parent teacher conferences, annual kick off events, etc. Informal observations happen much more often- watching a class walk the campus Quad, student interactions at recess, daily teacher student interactions, passing conversations with adults and children, communication from all stakeholders- formal and informal.
The Constitution Day Rally 2018 brought some wonderful sightings to the forefront about the impact Wood Acres has on the school community- our largest attendance by families and guests, book buddies sitting voluntarily with each other to enjoy the ceremony, our Director of Early School sharing her amazing story of discovering a rare family pocket edition of the Constitution dated in the 1800’s, handshakes and hugs from families as they share how valued this day has become, veterans thanking us for recognizing their service, students reciting the Preamble and talking about the Constitution all week long, staff enthusiasm planning the event and tying it to history and culture… the list goes on. Toss into that mix our enduring symbols of acorns, oak leaves and Ginkgo trees, campus buildings named after the Georgia signers of the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution as well as noted historical figures in Georgia’s history, Turner Hall named for two self-educated men, a campus compass rose adorning the Plaza, a new American flag posted every year- the list goes on.
Wood Acres School is about a million little things that are purposefully and lovingly woven into the fiber of our school, the talk of the day, and the walks about campus. It also permeates the formal and informal happenings on campus. It is not about a school; it is about a Wood Acres education. THAT is what matter most and that is what counts. Eureka! And that is what we intentionally- formally and informally- do each and every day!
Archived HEADLINE: October 2016…
It’s here! Can you see it? Can you feel it? Can you hear it? It is the cadence and rhythm of a school year in place and humming its autumn song as we turn the calendar to October. Students have found the first acorns on campus, sketched the first fallen leaves, and gazed at the amazing blue sky that arches over our campus. It feels so good inside and outside of our classrooms.
And before you know it the perfect trifecta of holidays will soon be upon us occupying the main aisles of stores from Hallmark to Dollar Tree and making October, November, and December filled to the brim with decorations and celebrations. Woo be the child who has a birthday during these three months as their parties are often overshadowed by the holiday du jour! While the commercialism of holidays is certainly omnipresent, the intrinsic importance of tradition and ceremony is vital to a child’s development of time, family, and community.
Dr. Carl Glickman, outstanding Professor Emeritus of the University of Georgia in the field of educational leadership, once spoke on this very topic and made a great impression on me in my developing years as an educational leader. His writing led me to metacognitively know why I always thought that ceremonies and traditions in the smallest family or the largest school were not “fluff” but critically important to the home and school climate and its ability to embrace its occupants with meaning and memories for a lifetime.
Ceremonies and traditions serve as punctuation marks in our lives. They make us pause, stop, “be”. They move us emotionally and spiritually. They help us tie the past, present, and future together in a way that helps us keep time, reflect, enjoy the moment, and wonder about the future. These events also help us visually demonstrate values and connections among generations. Ceremonies and traditions bring us together, across miles as well as across periods of absence. And they open the larder to prepare treats and food, open the boxes to deck the halls and walls with pumpkins, turkeys, menorahs and garland, open the photo albums to visit past ceremonies and make certain the traditions are well preserved. They make us sing, laugh, smile, cry, look wistfully, and sigh in contentment. Ceremonies and traditions make the time, energy, effort, planning, and often expense worth it in the long run. They matter to us. Remember, where our hearts are, so are our treasures!
So here’s to pumpkin carving, apple bobbing, trick or treating, and candy! Here’s to turkey and all the trimmings, football, naps, and holiday shopping. Here’s to stockings hung with care, candlelight services, cookies and milk, dreidels, and gifts from the heart. And here’s to the ceremonies and traditions of the Woods- Meet and Greet, conferences, Rally Round the Flag Constitution Day, Field Day, field trips, book fairs, book buddies, graduation ceremonies, and so much more. Here’s to our school traditions and ceremonies helping us mark the seasons of the Woods in our hearts and minds.