Yesterday afternoon, just before playing their first competitive match of the season, our Falcons were treated to a powerful pre-game pep talk from Coach Soden. He spoke to them about grit, one of his five pillars of character. Grit has been a trending term in education since Angela Duckworth shared her protean definition of the term during a much-lauded Ted Talk. For Duckworth, grit is about passion and perseverance in pursuing long-term goals. It involves setting a goal and striving to reach it no matter how much energy is required and no matter how many obstacles are encountered along the way. It’s an excellent lesson for our students (and for me too!)

We need energy every single day at The École. COVID is back in the news again—not that it ever really left, but we had hoped it wouldn’t make the headlines this year. Its return means staff members have been taking on additional duties, supervision, and classes so we can ensure the various absences are covered. I’d like to let those who are absent know that we are thinking of them; I know some of you have been hit hard this time around. We all hope to see you fully recovered and back to school soon.

On a much more positive note, field trips are also making a comeback (Central Park, Basquiat, MoMath, Grace Farms,  Lefferts House to name but a few!) new clubs are popping up, projects are being developed, we’re getting ready for the PTCs, preparing the first report cards, dancing the night away in costumes to DJ Flo’s beats—exhausted but happy—and signing up to chaperone the Middle School Halloween Dance tonight.

On top of all that, admissions season is upon us! We had 15 families in attendance on Wednesday night for the Elementary and Middle School Open House, organized as masterfully as ever by Mireille. Several team members stayed late to present our school to prospective families, making sure they had all the information they need so they can make an informed decision when it comes to choosing a school for their children. Some of our current parents were also in attendance as ambassadors, I would like to thank them for their support.

The feedback we received at the end of last week from the Parent Association is helpful in making sure we are not resting on our hypothetical laurels! I want to reassure you that we are taking all the comments on board, they will help guide our reflection on the present and the future of The École, your needs and expectations, and the necessity of reconciling our constraints and our objectives.

Finally, some of you will have heard from your children that Levar Burnes,  who has worked with us as a School Life Assistant at the Elementary and Middle School Building for 3 years, is leaving us today. A lot of children have been saddened to learn of his sudden departure. It is never easy to say goodbye to a familiar and much-loved face, to someone who is a member of the family. However, right now Levar needs to dedicate more time to his personal life and I wish him all the very best for the future.  You’ll find a short note from Levar at the bottom of this letter

As I’m writing to you this morning, the autumn sun is shining on the building across from my office window and the soft sound of jazz is coming from the 1st Grade classroom next door. The kids are quietly starting the first activities of the day. It’s Friday, so the smell of coffee and croissants is in the air. It’s a peaceful moment that is very much appreciated after a week during which we were given ample opportunity to demonstrate the grit that Coach Soden holds dear.

The Falcons drew against Schechter and lost by the tiniest of margins against Williamsburg Northside. Despite the results, the mood on the trip back to school was joyful and buoyant—who cares about losing a volleyball game when you study at The École and you have your whole life ahead of you?