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Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve students and families as principal of Laurel Hall School. I want to begin our relationship by sharing a recent personal, heartwarming story. I received a Facebook message from a woman named Megan. As soon as her name appeared, though I never knew her as an adult, I immediately recalled the moment we met, and the last time I ever saw her - twenty-five years ago, after her most proud moment in her short ten-year-old life - fifth grade culmination. I remember she was the last to leave campus that afternoon, holding her mother’s hand, beaming as she began to leave, before abruptly stopping to turn and give her favorite teacher a hug – a hug which would leave an indelible mark for the next quarter century. Likewise, when I first met Megan, she was arriving to her first day of school, also clutching her mother’s hand, grinning from ear to ear, though secretly terrified that her cerebral palsy and near complete blindness in one eye would inhibit her learning. Later, as my fifth-grade student, I came to know Megan as one of the most perseverant children I would ever meet. Over the years, I often wondered what became of her. The other day, I discovered the answer: “Hey Mr. G, I’m not sure if you remember me, but I was your student. I was thinking about you and wanted to tell you that you had a profound impact on my life. Your teaching really paid off. I have been living in Taiwan for twelve years. I am still handicapped and have a learning disability, but I speak seven different languages, teach English and am a self-supported missionary. Of course, all of this only by God’s Grace.” All of this only by God’s Grace, indeed. Thank you, Megan, for having such a profound influence on my life - shaping me to become the educator I am today. Thanks also, for reminding me of Goodness and Grace and for allowing me to share our story with my new, wonderful Emmanuel Lutheran Church community. Jay Guidetti Laurel Hall Principal
Greetings. The time has come for us to create a majestic experience for kids. For the past two months, we have been busy preparing for the arrival of the new school year. I am certain that the fruits of our labor will yield prosperity, so long as we exist in a culture of reflection and collaboration - the focus of our staff training and the message in which I will engage any adult who has influence on our children. To achieve our goals, we must be ever mindful of what interferes with teaching and learning. Mindfulness is a framework that we, like so many other successful schools, have adopted. It is the process by which we clear intra and interpersonal clutter to nurture a growth-mindset, and ensure every moment of every day is filled with positive academic, emotional and spiritual development. I once heard a teacher reflecting on his own practice. He said, “I cannot ever allow myself to be resentful of a child’s proficiency level.” He continued, “When I consciously take a moment to pause, breathe, and become aware that my own ‘stuff’ interferes with empathy, I am a better teacher.” I could not have said it any better. It is now time to clasp hands, renew our vows and accept the greatest challenge that also holds the greatest reward – teach and learn well, so that we may abundantly reap what we have sown. Jay Guidetti Laurel Hall Principal
It is always the little, seemingly obscure moments, that reinforce my decision to have pursued a life of teaching and learning. The other night, while sitting at the kitchen table for hours upon hours helping my seventeen-year old daughters prepare for the upcoming SAT, an email arrived. I must admit, spending the whole day at school, then tutoring my kids all night was a bit exhausting. That is, until I read the email. Dear Mr. Guidetti - I am Graysen, from 5th grade. We met at lunch once or twice. I am very concerned about my recent discovery of the new guideline saying that we cannot wear our Halloween costumes to school. Now, Halloween is my favorite time of year. I get to spend time with my friends, trick-or-treating, jabbering about our awesome and silly costumes, and so much more. So, even though this is on short notice, please consider changing that guideline. For the sake of me, my friends, and, heck, the whole school! I have seen that most kids enjoy it. If you are mostly concerned that kids don't like it, tell them they can choose if they wear a costume or not. And if not, is there a specific reason that you changed these rules? Dear Graysen - Thank you for your email! I am not sure where you heard that costumes are not allowed for Halloween. Masks cannot be worn during class time. But, costumes are allowed. Of course, the costumes need to be appropriate, and we must make sure that students don’t suddenly turn into scary monsters! By the way, Halloween is one of my favorite days of the year. Also, I love that you emailed me with this concern! A simple exchange between a fifth grader and me - I shared the dialogue with my soon-to-be college freshmen. SAT prep no longer seemed to be an arduous task. A ten-year old had just reminded us what was truly important in life! We all laughed, then continued the task at hand, reinvigorated by Graysen who also reminded me that teaching and learning is a joyous 24/7 commitment - and I wouldn’t want it to be any other way.
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