A few things I’m really missing about St. Francis this year, specifically with regards to the grown ups we’re not seeing in the building: people like mystery readers showing up to surprise their child and classmates with a story in Lower School. People like lunchroom volunteers serving second helpings of orzo salad, shredded carrots, or turkey sandwiches to hungry, growing students. People like library helpers at the book fairs, checking out wide-eyed students eager to dig into the stack of books they’ve selected, hoping they have enough left over for a cool poster or fun eraser. Who are these mystery grown-ups? You, of course. Our SFS parents!

While we know that limiting the number of folks in the building right now is what is best for health and safety reasons, the parent support and involvement that we have had this year is remarkable and speaks to some of the benefits of using technology to stay connected. Our Parent Association is led by Goshen Campus PA President and 7th grade parent Allison King. She and our classroom representatives (and anyone else who would like to attend) meet monthly via Google Meets, and attendance has never been better. Parents who might otherwise not be able to make an in-person PA meeting at 9:00 a.m in Goshen can easily log in from wherever they might be. The PA has done much great work already this year: the teachers have felt incredibly supported and appreciated by the snack carts provided by the PA, and PA families have been reaching out to new families to help them find a sense of connection and belonging with other St. Francis families. The parent mindfulness group continues to meet virtually, too, providing a sense of connection and support amongst interested parents around mindfulness-based stress reduction practices. This group is led by 5th grade parent Nedra Bleifer. We are so grateful for the PA and for parent-led groups!

Parents are finding other meaningful ways to contribute to the school community, too. Current Trustee and 6th grade parent Jerron Jones is a founding member of BMEN, The Black Men EDquity Network, a group that strives “to push the narrative of fostering a healthy community; illuminating diversity, inclusion, but more importantly creating a sense of belonging.” Jerron and other members of the group meet weekly with a group of Middle School students during their Wellness time, encouraging them, inspiring them, providing positive role models, and discussing ways to reach their goals. It is a powerful example of parental support in moving the Mission and Vision of the School forward. Thank you, Jerron and BMEN!

In the upcoming weeks, there will be further opportunities for parent connection at SFS: parent education opportunities to learn more from the experts at Freedom from Chemical Dependency (FCD); parent coffees via Google Meet to learn more about what’s happening this spring; and virtual parent evening meetups to casually socialize with other grade-level parents. Be sure to check the School Calendar for all the ways to stay connected to other SFS families and to the School community. If there are barriers to your participation in any of these events, please let us know, as we continue to seek ways to help all SFS families connect with one another and with the School. As this Education Week article states, “We know from decades of research that genuine, reciprocal, trusting relationships are the foundation on which educators and families can overcome educational obstacles.” If you are a parent looking for other parents to connect with, please reach out to your classroom representative or to Jen, Zak, or me, and we will point you in the right direction or make some introductions ourselves. We want all of the grown-ups to have a sense of belonging and connection in our community, and each of you is an instrumental part of making that happen.