[Head of School Clair Ward delivered the following remarks on October 4, 2018, at the 1936 Society Reception for leadership donors and volunteers. See more photos from the event.]
I want to start by thanking you all for being with us tonight. Your presence is so appreciated, and having the opportunity to express our gratitude in person means the world to us.
On Opening Day, we held our annual Flag Raising Ceremony to launch the start of the new school year. In addition to cultivating plants in our outdoor classroom, I urged the students to consider ways to help grow gratitude at our school. While the expression of gratitude is of course considered mannerly, raising children to be thankful has another important benefit. The research suggests that the number one distinguishing trait of resilient children is their ability to feel and express gratitude. With all of the recent media focus on grit, it is interesting to me as both an educator and a parent that the key to grit is the soft skill of gratitude. So this year we are exploring this with the children. And I am looking to stop and notice the small moments in my own life.
I want to share with you a grateful moment that I felt just yesterday during lower school meeting. Following a fifth grade slideshow about examples of the Community Code, our Pre-K 2 children took the stage to sing "Make New Friends." It was extraordinary in so many ways. Yes, they were amazing, brave, and totally rocking the “cuteness” factor. I was grateful for them. But one of the things that struck me was the pure excitement their teacher, Beth White, had for the whole affair. She was gleeful about the fact that it was the first time she had ever considered putting a Pre-K class on the stage this early in the year. She was passionate about how well they had done during their preparation. Prior to those children ever taking the stage yesterday, Beth White believed they had already achieved their goal. It didn’t matter how well they did on the stage, because, staying true to Shore’s philosophy, Beth was valuing the process over the product—the journey over the destination. I was grateful for those children singing "Make New Friends," and I was grateful for Beth.
Now in my second year as Head of School, I am here to tell you that there is an undeniable energy happening for Shore and its future. With the completion of our re-accreditation process, a facilities audit, and our diversity plan, the Board of Trustees and I will have everything we need in place to chart an exciting future for Shore. Having been in independent schools from Boston to San Francisco, and having served for years on the Pennsylvania commission for accreditation, I am here to tell you that our school is in a unique position of strength. We are strong financially, we have achieved a successful transition, and we have one of the most strategic boards that I have seen in my career. There are truly wonderful days ahead for Shore.
Each one of you is also a part of our recipe for success in visioning our future. As we prepare to launch this year’s Shore Fund, we are aware that your commitment allows us to continue offering the Shore experience to another generation of children. Your willingness to be leadership donors signals our families that their own commitment is worth it. My husband Bryon and I will once again join you at the leadership level to demonstrate to our community the importance of this support.
Inspired by our flag-raising, we want to make tonight about gratitude. So let me finish by saying thank you. It is a privilege for me to be here and I look forward to spending time with each of you during our partnership to support Shore Country Day School, the area’s finest education for children. Thank you.