I remember the emotions very clearly. Almost a decade ago, pulling up to Armstrong for the first time. Trying to figure out the right school for my adorable 7-year-old (if Skylar sees this line I am in serious trouble). There were a lot of emotions that day and in the days that followed. But one feeling would override all the others. Adrienne and I were thankful. So very thankful that we lived within driving distance of one of the relatively small number of schools in our country that specialized in students with dyslexia. As parents, we were and will always be thankful for the education Armstrong provided to Skylar and for quite literally, as our mission states, changing the trajectory of her life.
Fast forward a number of years and the lens through which I view Armstrong has, not surprisingly, changed a bit.... but my appreciation for the Armstrong community has only grown. I am so thankful and grateful to serve as your Head of School. I appreciate the trust you have placed in me and work every day to try to honor that trust. And while I am still thankful broadly for “Armstrong” as I was as a parent, I now have a greater appreciation of all the individual pieces that make up the whole of our community. Students, faculty, staff, leadership team colleagues, parents, guardians, family members, our founder Wilbur, Board and committee members, UCSF and other academic/curriculum partners, CAPSO participants, room parents, volunteers, donors, alumni, alumni families, neighbors, Belmont officials, and anyone who I left out (and in no particular order!) – I am thankful for all that you contribute to make an Armstrong education truly special.
To call out two groups in particular...
I am so thankful for our students. Our students either possess or are developing a courage to understand their learning differences and not let those differences be a barrier to a life of happiness, success, and positive impact on the world around them. We are all here for them – and so thankful for everything they put into their own education.
I am so thankful for our faculty and staff. It takes a special person to devote their life to serving others. Armstrong is filled with them. They could be teaching somewhere where the profession is easier. They could be leaving the profession all together. They could be providing IT services, financial services, or other crucial staff support in the private sector, with higher pay and greater resources at their fingertips. But they all chose the noble calling of working at Armstrong and I am lucky to work with each and every one of them.
Finally, I know that “thanks” isn’t necessarily on the tip of everyone’s tongue this time of year. The Thanksgiving holiday itself has become more challenging as we all try to balance the historical basis for the holiday with the cruel treatment of Native Americans over the centuries that followed. And in 2021, many of us have had an especially tough year given the pandemic and the ongoing struggle for equality and civility in our country. Today, the Rittenhouse verdict is yet another reminder that we are still struggling as a country to understand justice while we strive to be a more perfect union. Wherever this week finds you emotionally, please remember that you are part of a special community here at Armstrong and we are always there to provide support, caring, and love if you need them. And, for that, we should all be thankful. Happy Thanksgiving!