On the Family Day weekend, I reflected a fair amount on the difference between family and community. Over the years, I have heard people say that our community is family, and while this sounds ideal, there is an important distinction between the two- and one that we must not take lightly.
We are born or adopted into our immediate families and, by default, are automatically members. It is alongside our family that we grow, acquire values, perspectives and experiences. Our families- most often- know us the best. We can be who we are with our families. As a result of this ‘security’ I know there have been many times over years of learning and growing when I was not at my best with either my parents or my siblings. Despite me taking them for granted, been selfish or dismissive at times, they continued to love and support me.
At St. Clement’s, one of our values is community. We value the importance of our SCS students, staff, alumnae, past parents, friends and partnerships. We are connected because of our School, its values, purpose and mission. Whether we work at SCS, attend as students, or support children or alumnae who have been educated by the staff and School, we are a part of the community and this can be powerful in so many ways. It is the School’s responsibility to ensure that ours is a welcoming, inclusive and respectful one where members can be their authentic selves.
Unlike families, it is vital to remember that we are able to make choices about the communities in which we wish to exist. This is an important distinction.
In order to ensure a strong sense of community where people from different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives come together in a positive way, we must be sure that we are open to learning and understanding from one another. Unlike our families- where we best know one another and occasionally take things for granted- each community member has a responsibility to work hard to walk in the shoes of others, suspend assumptions, and embrace opportunities for growth.
Family Day Weekend has been a time for reflection about families, but also the extra responsibilities required as members of a broader community. On Friday, February 21, we will be extending offers of admission to new community members who will join us in the fall of 2020. I am excited. In welcoming new members, we are inviting learning and growth.