As we break this weekend for Family Day, I am quite sure there are no complaints about having an extra day to spend with the ones we love. In my office, I have a plaque hanging on the wall that reminds me that our families are the cradle of our identity – it says, “Family is where your story begins”. It’s where mine began and yours, too. If you are like me, you are very thankful for the one you have.
While the third weekend in February has been set aside to recognize families in Ontario since 2008, in reality every day is “family day”. And this is a good thing for everyone because families make the world work. The bonds forged within are important because family helps us get through the best of times and the worst of times. Family is also important because they offer support and security combined with unconditional love. Our family members will always look to see (…and bring out!) the best in us, even if we can’t see it for ourselves. On days when we struggle, that is worth more than almost anything.
In schools we celebrate the fact that families come in all shapes and sizes and there are many creative metaphors that capture this uniqueness. For example, families are like snowflakes – no two are alike. Families are like zoos – full of wildly different personalities. Families are like a garden – they require care and attention to grow. Families are like trees – they have limbs, branches, leaves, and roots that tell us where we came from. While there are many different kinds of families, one thing is certain: none of them is perfect; a reality that binds us together in this mortal coil. All of us are imperfect human beings coming from imperfect families living in imperfect homes in an imperfect world.
It is also true that some use the analogy of “family” to describe their children’s school and it is mostly understandable. Why? There are a few possible reasons:
A School Family is built on a healthy family model – the goal of which is the optimal development of all members.
A School Family builds connections between families and schools, teachers and teachers, teachers and students, and students and students to ensure the optimal development of all.
A School Family is created through routines, rituals, and structures.
A School Family avoids coercion, fear, and external rewards, and focuses on intrinsic motivation, helpfulness, problem-solving, and connection to govern its classrooms.
At Matthews Hall, this is the very sort of “family life” we work to provide for our students and one another. It is not a perfect example of family living because that would not be possible, but it is supported by our mission to inspire students to be the best they can be in a learning environment that is calm, purposeful, and supportive.
As parents and teachers, we know that one of the biggest threats to a child’s sense of well-being is an out-of-control adult. In the tapestry of families comprising our small family school, our keys to success have always been the partnerships and common purpose prioritized by the conscientious, mindful, and wise adults in our midst.
This weekend we honour our Matthews Hall parents, children, and teachers and their unique roles in making our school feel “family-like”.
On behalf of the staff of Matthews Hall, best wishes for an enjoyable weekend together!
Ric Anderson, Head of School