At Montgomery, we celebrate childhood. We cherish the beauty, wonder, and opportunity of youth. As I observe and consider the daily experience of our Middle Schoolers on campus, I am encouraged by the gift we give them in this PreK to 8th grade community. Middle Schoolers do not cross paths regularly with High Schoolers; accordingly, they are not constantly comparing themselves to young adults, jockeying for status and affirmation in unhealthy ways.
Letters from the Middle School Head
One thing I love about this time of the year is the opportunity for reflection for each one of us. The pause around the holidays enables us to consider the path we've each traveled, carrying us to the current moment; it also affords us time to chart a hopeful course for the New Year. As adults, we engage in this level of introspection with relative ease, because our capacity for honest reflection and ambitious goal-setting has developed with time and maturity.
For adolescents, however, the thoughtful practice of reflection and goal-setting can be discouraging. Long-term goals require perseverance, a singularity of focus and effort over time, regardless of emotions or temporary setbacks. Accordingly, I find myself wondering how we as adults might provide effective encouragement and support for our tweens and teens when they are tempted to give up on their goals?
Dear Middle School Parents,
Being a "You First" Community
A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of addressing the entire Montgomery community for the first time in the form of a Chapel talk. In preparation for my address, I initially struggled to land on a topic that would be both palatable and accessible to such a broad range of ages (PreK to adults). However, I thought it wise to begin with a focus on the one of the School's guiding tenets: Caritas. Caritas is the latin word for "charity, compassion" and is a highly tangible character trait that we all need to hone and apply daily, especially if we desire to be a community where all members flourish.
I proposed that in order for us to be marked by compassion, we must be a "You First" community, looking for ways we can say "You First" to others.
- Why? We are designed for relationship; we desire harmony and connection with others.
- Why is putting others first a challenge? From infancy, we all have a propensity for selfishness, for prioritizing our own needs and desires over those of others. Also, we're sold the lie daily that getting what we want will result in our own happiness. However, when we focus solely on ourselves, we actually tend to feel more isolated and dissatisfied.
- How might we put others first today? One's character is composed of countless seemingly small decisions; it's in the little things. New York Times columnist David Brooks makes an important distinction between "resume virtues" (those things done in hopes of bolstering one's resume) and "eulogy virtues" (those things done in hopes of leaving a legacy of selflessness and joy).
Being a "You First" community is not easy. It requires individual reflection, a searching of one's own motives. May we all (faculty, students, parents) seek to leave a legacy of selfless compassion for others, across the street and around the world.