Christmas Message 2014

Dear Parents,

In my many years working as an educator, I can’t begin to count the number of times I have learned important lessons from the children in my charge. Such was the case yesterday when a staff member shared the story of a student interaction that had just happened in our hallways. Two 3rd grade boys were quarreling over a single toy that they both wanted to keep following an afternoon party. The students employed the resolution strategies taught to them by their teachers, but were still struggling with coming to a viable solution. The wisdom of the staff member at this point was to engage the boys in helping with some cleanup activities while holding the toy for them. The task gave the boys an opportunity to work as a team, but more importantly, it gave them time for reflection. The students decided to resolve the toy issue the next day and were about to say goodbye. But, one of the boys said in the final moment before leaving, “I’ve decided I don’t want the toy. Friendship is more important to me than things.”

Pause for heart melting…

Teachers refer to this as the “Ah-Hah” moment, the instance when everything becomes real for a student and the strategies that were taught bring about deeper understanding and profound insight.

There are two lessons learned here. The first is that the “Love” in our theme of “Love Learning” demands an important quality that is often forgotten – Patience! Children learn on their own clock at times, often frustrated by adult expectations for quick resolution. They need time to digest and make connections. In this story, the adult could have adjudicated the dispute by taking the toy away, calling the parents, or imposing some quick solution. But, the patience of letting the boys have a few minutes of contemplation while engaging collaboratively in service led to a far better conclusion — and a more profound outcome for all involved.

The second lesson is one that this student is teaching us. In his final statement, the child delivered a poignant message for the season. We are finding ourselves now embroiled in many challenging events across the globe and in our midst. Our hearts go out to those who have been impacted. The lesson from our boy above speaks to the priority to human relationships and a profound commitment to community over commodity. May the spirit of the holiday season inspire you and yours to consider the importance of our common quest for peace and joy.

As is usual this time of year, we sadly say goodbye to a few AAS families; we wish them the best of luck in the next chapters of their lives. I know you will join me in warmly welcoming new families in January.

Happy holidays to all! I look forward to seeing you again in the New Year!!

Best Regards,
Jon P. Zurfluh