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Opening Letter from the Director of Upper School

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Dear Families,

Happy New Year! I have to admit I have a love/hate relationship with the holiday in January, but I love the first day of school. It’s a clean slate, a fresh start, and a time to make resolutions about what you will do better this year. This is true for students and teachers alike. It’s that fresh start feeling that makes this time of year so exciting. Last year, I shared the poem Dream Big, by an unknown author. (Here is a link, if you’d like to read the whole poem: http://www.uni.edu/walsh/big.html.) The line, “The start of something new brings the hope of something great,” has always been a favorite, and I think of it at this time every year.

This poem was first given to me by a former teammate, so I also connect it to sports. When I coached, the season always had that same hopeful start. Will we win? Will we make it to postseason? The best time was the first day, when everyone was undefeated. My job as coach was to keep that hopefulness going all season, to help the students create goals that didn’t fall apart when we had a bad game or suffered a difficult loss. My challenge was to keep my athletes working hard, learning, and growing as a team until the last whistle of the last game. As a teacher, my job is not that different.

Today is a new day. It’s the first day of school. Whoever our students were, whatever they did last year, is behind them. They are taller (in some cases, significantly), smarter, stronger, and hopefully, braver than they were this time last year. With these changes comes the promise that this year will be the best. Today, they step up to the plate carrying only the things they want to bring and shedding everything that doesn’t fit anymore or feel right. They are empowered by what they have learned and excited about what can happen. Today, they are undefeated!

I’d like to say this year will be perfect, but I know it won’t be. Bumps are inevitable. Bumps are a consequence of growing, stretching, and learning what they are made of, not just on the outside but also on the inside. Please do not hesitate to reach out to homeroom and classroom teachers. If your child has any questions, issues, or problems, we are all here to help. It is always best to go directly to the teacher first. If you are not sure who to contact, please let me know and I’ll be happy to direct you. Each grade-level team meets once a week to discuss the calendar, the curriculum, and students. This communication ensures that what you share with one teacher will get to all teachers. The partnership between home and school is essential to your child's success and key to us holding on to that September hopefulness all year long. It’s this communication that will keep a bad game or sad loss from ruining the whole season.

When you talk with your child about all this year might bring, encourage them, as the poem suggests, to dig deep and persist. If they work hard, maintain the attitude that mistakes are learning opportunities—not just in math (ha) but in everything—and trust that their teachers want to help them reach their goals, all they have left to do is dream big!

So blow your horns, make some noise, the countdown is over! Happy New Year! I can’t wait to see what this new year holds for GUS. I have no doubt it will be great.

Trust and Go Forward,

Gretchen Forsyth

Director of Upper School