After a month of January that seemed to drag on for 86 days and a start to February that slipped through our fingers faster than you can say Valentine’s Day, we find ourselves on the brink of a break (again/finally/already – depending on who you talk to!) Today, The École resembled the opposite of Corneille’s alexandrine:
As 322 we started, | but because of early departures:
To 213 we dropped | as dismissal approached.*

One of the big events this week—but far from the only one—was of course Valentine’s Day and all of the activities that accompanied it. In France, it’s a holiday that is reserved for lovers, which means it gets short shrift at school, where we shy away from such matters. It is therefore a real pleasure for me to see our students come to school every February 14 dressed in pink and decorated with red hearts. I love reading the cards they write expressing their affection for their classmates, teachers, and friends. I adore seeing the children bringing in small tokens of appreciation for their teachers (and sometimes even for the head of school!)

Three years ago, when we were in New York for the head-of-school interviews with different members of The École community, Andria and I went out to dinner on Valentine’s night. We were exhausted with jetlag (Andria, who was a 1st Grade English teacher in Taipei where schools had already closed their doors for fear of COVID, had been giving online lessons at night), and frozen solid (it was around 14 degrees Fahrenheit and, with our Taiwanese wardrobe, we were ill-equipped for the New York winter) so we rushed into the first restaurant we came across (we were packed like sardines with rows of people elbowing their way to a nab a seat at the bar.)

It was there and then that Andria in all solemnity announced to me (without an iota of pressure) that I had no choice but to do absolutely everything I could to get the job. Since then, it has become our tradition to return to the same restaurant for Valentine’s night each year, after a quick aperitif at the bar of the hotel where we stayed in February 2020.

The world has changed so much in the meantime but those moments when the two of us began to imagine our future in a different city, started constructing threadbare plans, and eavesdropped on conversations between other couples (authentic new yorkers compared to us wannabes) are beautiful memories that make February 14 a particularly special day for us. Our first impressions were right (as first impressions so often are) and joining you was the best decision we ever made.

Seeing as we are speaking of beautiful things, I would like to take this opportunity to welcome Umma, Elvedina’s baby girl. Elvedina is our Pre-Nursery assistant and we wish her, Umma, and their family all the happiness in the world.

Wishing you an excellent break (a special thought for the students and staff who will be attending camp next week.) See you on February 27—another special date for me!

*The original Corneille alexandrine (for those who didn’t attend a French school):
Nous partîmes cinq cents; | mais par un prompt renfort
Nous nous vîmes trois mille | en arrivant au port.

which translates as:
As five hundred we left, | but soon we gained support:
To three thousand we grew | as we approached the port.