Lower & Middle School Director's Blog: August 2019

This past July, my wife and I attended a concert with some friends at an extraordinarily small venue. For starters, the fact that we were able to go out and see a concert—as parents of three young children—was a minor miracle. To the point, though, seeing one of our favorite bands up-close-and-personal was a real treat.
I have known this band for over 20 years, and I have seen them many times before. Their songs were not new at this concert, and the band members were familiar— except for maybe a bit less hair since the last time I saw them. What struck me this time around was how well they worked together. The distance between us and the band was maybe the distance between you and your TV in the living room, so we were able to see their facial expressions and body language clear as day. Watching four musicians with four completely different roles work together to produce a sweet melody was amazing.
This same concept struck me just a couple of weeks ago at the Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival. When musicians of incredible talent, playing very different instruments, bring their sounds together to produce harmony – it was a form of bliss and beauty.
Okay, admittedly, the band I have been following for over 20 years is called Guster. They formed during their college years (which were also my college years), and they have been playing together ever since. Their music is an arrangement of many different instruments and sounds, including a drummer who mostly plays with his hands instead of traditional drumsticks. How have their individual sounds collectively achieved harmony over the years? I imagine this was done through hard work, creativity, compromise, and positive energy. And, after years of practice and repetition, I was lucky enough to witness, close-range during this recent concert, these concepts come to life.
Now, as we begin another school year, I am thinking a lot about the concept of harmony and how it plays into raising and working with children. Just as in a band, producing harmony is the ultimate goal of any community. Harmony does not mean that everybody agrees, or members of the community acquiesce to keep the peace. Harmony is a brilliant concept because it relies on individual differences—just like in a band. Achieving harmony means celebrating and embracing those differences to create a greater parade of sights, sounds, and colors. Harmony is a form of elevation; achieving it helps us to individually and collectively become our best selves.
So, as we eagerly begin the new school year, I am pleased to say that we have several initiatives in the works to promote harmony among our students and ourselves. From health and wellness classes, to conflict resolution sessions, to increasing common language around conflict resolution, I am excited about what’s in store. Indeed, achieving harmony in a community takes hard work, creativity, compromise, and positive energy. Our students deserve our best efforts -- our world deserves our best efforts.
I hope you had a terrific summer listening to music, reading books, and enjoying family and friends. Here’s to harmony, here’s to our best efforts, and here’s to what promises to be an amazing school year. Thank you for being a part of it.
Gill St. Bernard’s is a private, coeducational day school for students age three through grade 12, located in suburban New Jersey. Each of the three school divisions provides a rigorous, meaningful, and age-appropriate curriculum, and all students benefit from the environmental learning opportunities that exist on our 208-acre campus.