The Seventh Core Value

First, a heartfelt thank you to all of our service men and women who have served and continue to serve our country. I get to write the article that follows here because of the work you have done and continue to do to defend our freedoms as a nation. Thank you.

Second, I have been giving those freedoms a great deal of consideration this week.

This has been a difficult week for our community. On Wednesday, my day began with the following: a 5:45 a.m. wake up to walk my dogs that begins with a quick look at my phone for any news that may have broken overnight. Normally, that news involves the score from the Red Sox on a west coast swing or reminder that I have greeting duty at 7:45 a.m. But this Wednesday, it began with the news that our 45th president had been declared and that Donald Trump was the winner of the election. The dogs, my wife and I had a good long walk ahead of us.

Upon my return, I sent along an article that had been passed my way by second grade teacher, Tina Fox, from Teaching for Tolerance about how to handle the response to the election and a reminder to faculty that our students would need us—emotionally and professionally—to keep them safe; to meet their needs as we always strive to do. Then I drove to school. My first interaction with a faculty member occurred in the parking lot. “How are you?” I asked (as I have asked a million times before). No response. Tears. “I just wish…I just wish I had a sign that I could wear encouraging people not to ask that question of me today. Anything but ‘how are you.'”

I gave the teacher a hug, had a brief conversation at our collective surprise at the outcome, and proceeded to the circle to greet families. An interesting study of the human condition, carline.  Some children bounding into school the way they always have. Some kids bereft, clearly shaken by the news. Parents concerned about how we intended to handle the day. Some asking for business-as-usual. Some asking for all-school assemblies in the name of unity and community.  Some asking for something to help their children make sense of the election outcome in a way that they could not. Others still quietly content with that outcome, asking that we be mindful that our community is not exclusively of one political mindset.

That morning set the tone for how my post-election world would unfold for the week: countless articles, emails, conversations, and suggestions from teachers, parents, and peers from other schools searching to support one another and help our community make sense of it all.  

All week long and particularly on this Veterans’ Day, I find myself coming back again and again to our core values and the question I was asked during my search process last year: “What would be the seventh core value if you could add one?”  

Along with honesty, respect, responsibility, joy, caring, and excellence (a lofty set unto itself), I would add courage. This week as much as any, I have felt the need for it. The courage to articulate to a community that regardless of who leads our country and what messages emerged from his campaign, that we are honest enough and responsible enough to reject disrespectful language, messages, actions, or ideologies that encroach upon our values. That regardless of how we chose to vote or what we expected in the outcome, that we care deeply enough for one another and for this community that we will seek to understand where our differences are rooted. That we are respectful enough to engage in the civil discourse that our democracy encourages. That we will continue to find joy in our community both with and on behalf of our children. That we will continue to strive for excellence in all that we do. Our core values are transcendent, and this week and in the months and years ahead, we will be asked to live them more visibly and intentionally, inviolately, and courageously than we have ever before.

I cannot imagine a community better equipped to engage in the noble work of upholding these values for our children. Thank you for joining me in that effort.

If anyone has any questions, concerns, or comments regarding the ways in which we have been or will continue to work with our children around this election, please reach out. I am eager to hear your perspective and work with you. Have a great weekend.

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On Tuesday, we will gather for our annual Thanksgiving assembly—an opportunity to express gratitude as a community.

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