Notes from the Head

In our cycle of monthly values that we focus on with our students, it is not surprising that the values of Thankfulness and Gratitude fall in the month of November. Naturally, it is a time when we focus on the many blessings that we have in our lives, and each student can list a number of people, places, or things for which they are grateful. Through generous hearts and spirits, our students enthusiastically support efforts to reach out to make good things happen for other people throughout the year. This fall alone we have raised money for our sister school in Houston, Texas, as they recover from Hurricane Harvey. We have donated to the Heifer Project, to animal shelters, to the Community Food Bank, and to the food pantry at St. Michael’s Church. Generous spirits are reflected in the many outreach activities that take place at St. Michael’s, and we model well.

On Monday, as we concluded our conversations about Gratitude and Thankfulness, we talked about ways that we can continue to practice this value, not just in November but all year long. Andrea Husson, a specialist in Developmental Science, suggests five big things we can do to develop a habit of gratitude with children: model thankfulness; embed it; talk about it when it is there; talk about it when it is not there; and repeat it often. In modeling thankfulness, we notice reasons for being grateful, think about it, and take note of how it feels when we are grateful. Through activities that foster gratitude, such as helping others in small and big ways, the practice is embedded in our system of values. Talking about gratitude, when it is present and even when it is not, demonstrates to children why a sense of gratitude makes a difference in how we feel and relate to others.

One way to develop a greater sense of gratitude is to keep a gratitude journal. Even a young child can think of one thing each day for which to be thankful. Perhaps as part of a bedtime ritual, making note of even one or two things that a child is grateful for can help to foster that ongoing sense of thanksgiving. This in turn creates greater optimism, life satisfaction, and a healthier emotional and physical well-being. Personally, I might just take that as a challenge, keeping a daily gratitude journal for the month ahead. Perhaps doing so will keep the focus on thankfulness for all that I have, rather than making lists of all that I want. They say that new habits can be formed in as few as three weeks. So, with pencil and pad in hand, I think I’ll kick off December with a commitment to daily gratitude, embedding it and repeating it often. Sounds like a great way to prepare for Christmas. Grab your journal and join me!

Margaret Moore

Head of School

Free Money and Box Tops

Just a reminder to keep collecting Box Tops year round. Our next big collection will be in February.

Also, as you start your holiday shopping, join Amazon Smiles and select our school. Amazon gives money back to our school as you shop. Do you shop at Frys ? Do you have their shopping card? They also give money back to our school if you join. It’s very easy, and as you use your Frys card, it gives money back to our school. These are very easy steps that help our school. Check out our Free Money Flyer:

Free Money Flyer-2lzm8b5

Thanks for helping!

Girl Scouts

Girl Scouts will meet after school this Friday, December 1, in the Foundations Courtyard outside of the lower school science room. Pick-up will be at 4:30 in the science room.

Coach’s Corner

Middle School Sports

Coed Soccer -Thursday, 11/30 –  Academy of Tucson @SM 4:00 p.m.

Monday, 12/4  – Calvary @SM  4:00 p.m.

*Please note, we play our home soccer games at Sewell Elementary School.

Intramurals

Upcoming practices (all dates are also on the school calendar):

Volleyball:

11/27, 11/29, 11/30

12/4, 12/5 (Tuesday), 12/6 (last day for volleyball)

Basketball:

12/11, 12/13, 12/14

12/18, 12/19 (Tuesday), 12/20

1/8, 1/10, 1/11

1/17, 1/18 (last day)

Uniform Exchange

Mark your calendars for next week’s uniform sale and exchange on Saturday, December 9, from 9:00 – 10:30 a.m. in Tankersley Hall. Gently used uniforms (all seasons) can be had for $2, $4, or even-exchange! Now is your chance to size up pants and jackets or stock up on shorts and polos for the spring. This is likely the last uniform sale and exchange of the year. Hope to see you then!

Last Push for the Turkey Trot

The generosity of the St. Michael’s School community is overwhelming. As we look to wrap up our annual Food Drive, we want to thank everyone for supporting this community outreach. Bake sales, car washes, pickle sales, and more–including personal cash donations that have come from emptied piggy banks–have made a significant difference. Cash donations will go to the Community Food Bank. Canned food products help to stock the church food pantry for distribution to those who come to the church for assistance. Thank you for sending in your cash donations and canned food items to support our outreach in the Tucson community.

Cash donations received by this Thursday morning at 9:00 a.m. will be matched by TEP. Please bring all canned food donations to the School Office or your child’s classroom by Monday morning at 8:00 a.m. Thank you for making a difference in our community.

Notes from the Head

As we head toward our annual celebration of Thanksgiving, gratitude and gratefulness become routine topics of conversation. We have talked about it in our chapel services and in the classrooms. Certainly, it might be a topic around dinner tables at home as well. When asked what they might be thankful for, our students name people, places, and things of great value. Family, friends, pets, material possessions, and our school are often mentioned in the list they recite. Frequently overlooked, however, are the intangible things that bring meaning to our daily lives. The kind words spoken by a friend…the invitation to join a group or a game…the listening ear of a trusted colleague or friend…an encouraging note that affirms our worth as human beings…a phone call that comes at just the right time to say simply “hello”–all examples of actions that speak to the heart. These intangibles, for me, are what top my gratitude list.

At St. Michael’s, we do so much more than teach academics. We create community. We celebrate diversity. We honor the dignity of everyone. We extend a hand of greeting and welcome, making this a school where everyone can find a place and everyone knows your name. That is not always easy, but it is part of ongoing lesson plans, remembering that kindness gets you everywhere, remembering that the intangibles make the biggest difference. Unfortunately, our students see too many examples outside of school that demonstrate the exact opposite. Jokes that bring a laugh at the expense of a person or particular group, or social-media postings that marginalize people different from ourselves. Angry rhetoric and violence that have catastrophic outcomes. Sadly, we do not need to look far to see that our country is becoming increasingly polarized. The trenches between us grow deeper and wider by the day. All of this is on full display in the news, on social media, and in movies and cable shows that seem to have no boundaries. Our students see much of this. It becomes their model. It is hard to find something to be thankful for around that type of behavior.

Author Brené Brown suggests a better way in her most recent book, Braving the Wilderness. Speaking to an assembled group of educators at an Episcopal school conference in Houston this fall, Brown focused on four practices that might just help us to find our way back toward stronger connections and cultivating a greater sense of belonging. The first suggests that we move in closer to those we dislike or to those who might have opposing viewpoints. Rather than remaining at a distance, when we move closer, listen well, and attempt to understand viewpoints different from our own, it is more likely that respect and acceptance can grow. Second, Brown suggests that we speak the truth but in a civil way. We do not have to accept or agree with false or groundless arguments, but we can be civil and respectful in disagreeing. Third, she encourages readers to move outside of comfort zones and get to know strangers. Shake hands, make contact, and picture them as potential friends rather than enemies across a divide. Finally, Brown calls for strong backs, soft fronts, and wild hearts. As we push to be part of the solution, we will be part of bringing communities closer together, modeling civility for others who may be watching, young or old.

Belonging is a human need. Maybe, just maybe, if more people committed to move closer, listen more, and speak in a civil manner while attempting to understand and accept those that are different, our children would see a model for community that celebrates our common humanity, even through our differences. For that, we could all be truly grateful this Thanksgiving, and our world would be a far better place. As we all know, children watch our every move, and big ears hear everything.

Margaret Delk Moore

Head of School