Greetings from the Middle School

April 28, 2020
 
Dear Parents,
 
I hope you are well.
 
That has become our new greeting, the prefix to any request for information, for assistance, for attention. "I hope you are well" is a necessary addition to our official and collegial correspondence. It feels callous not to include it, and I think, parents, we should look at this preface as something to celebrate.
 
"I hope you are well." I care about you. I think about you. I recognize you.
 
What better example can we set for our children than to begin a message with such affirmation? Many of my conversations with students circle around issues of empathy. Middle school students sometimes struggle with extending this toward others, but they also very much need it to be extended toward them. Sequestered as they are at home, trapped in an age-appropriate swirling vortex of drama and angst (and what is the point of being in middle school if you cannot have very high levels of drama and angst?), students might need some verification that they are seen. Each week spent in familial togetherness might make them feel more watched than actually seen, increasing frustrations and heightening tension. There may be days when the family pet has a higher rate of perceived intelligence than you, a perception based on the conviction that you do not understand whatever it is because they believe you cannot see it.
 
So, yes, we adults can use a small sentence to send a big message. When, someday in the future, they see you start a conversation with the phrase, "I hope you are well," they will see you extending care and consideration, and it will impact them. They will do as you do. If you find this difficult to believe, talk to your friends whose children have started driving, and how self-conscious the parents are about the way they operate the family car. They are watching and they do see you.
 
I have invited the students to a Morning Meeting tomorrow at 8:45. It is a webinar on Zoom, and a chance to remind them about their friends at school, to celebrate some key moments, and to recognize some birthdays. I hope they will leave it feeling a little more connected and a little more "seen". We are having an extra Falcon Funday this Friday, so I hope you all get a chance to exercise your funny bone and relax a little. 
 
In the meantime, know that you are doing a great job.
 
I hope you are well. 
Theresa Jespersen
Head of Middle School
Assistant Head of School

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Serving Pinehurst, Southern Pines, Whispering Pines, Sanford, West End, Aberdeen, and areas surrounding Moore County, NC.


The O’Neal School
3300 Airport Road
Southern Pines, NC 28387
910.692.6920

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