Building Community: Head of School Letter
We did it! When GUS first began to plan for the playground build last April, 2018, one trustee remarked, “Wow, that’s going to take a lot of hands.” We’re a community of only about 130 families. As a small school, undertaking a community build was an act of hope, faith, and trust. But so is educating children.
On the first day of the build, the groundwork had literally already been laid. Parent and grandparent volunteers had cleared the site, surveyed it, graded it, and readied it for the build. That was like the infancy to toddler phase. Stacks of lumber needed to be routed and sanded, and posts set. Tuesday afternoon, the cavalry arrived: volunteers from Carpenters Local Union 339 worked into the night, and returned day after day, simply in the spirit of community.
The structure itself quickly rose, buoyed by a growing sense of community and the energy that comes from shared work. Those first few days were slow going, a bit like learning to read in kindergarten, first, and second grade. There were struggles and setbacks, but like children in early elementary school, the project found its footings and developed a rhythm. Hope, faith, trust.
By Friday, things were well underway. Just as in third and fourth grade where there is a shift from “learning to read” to “reading to learn,” the playground’s trajectory was set. By the time we spread the wood chips on Sunday, the heavy lifting had been accomplished because we came together over shared goals. Monday morning’s ribbon cutting gave way to squeals of delight and celebration: we did it! And the children have been happily enjoying the fruits of what the community built since then!
A huge debt of gratitude is owed to our three volunteer project managers: George Balich (TR, P ’92’96, GP’22’25), Andrew Brown (TR, P’21), and Nick Kent (’91 & P’23’26). Thank you for your dedication, tireless enthusiasm, and ability to seemingly effortlessly bring this group of volunteers together see this project to completion. This project is a testament to what community building and the enterprise of our school are all about.
As I enter my final months at GUS, it’s a process, ongoing long into the future, that I will look back on with great pride and satisfaction. If the directive for any head of school is to leave a place better than he or she found it, I’m pleased to see the broad, volunteer effort that allowed the playground’s completion. I’m even more pleased that the spirit of our community grew at the same time and will stand as strong as the new playground for many years to come. You’ll see that same spirit in our upcoming May Day celebration, in the partnership between home and school, in mindful moments at GUS, and in our recent 6th grade farm trip. All are examples of the ways we build community.
May and June will fly by, and graduation will soon be upon us. I hope to see each of you at a GUS event in the coming weeks!
Trust and go forward,
Head of School