October 25, 2019

In my remarks this year at our opening Parents’ Association Welcome Breakfast, I intentionally departed from my traditional script. First, I spoke in depth about only one of the books I read this summer. Second, I dispensed with my usual beginning of the year words of advice. Finally, I kept my remarks under ten minutes!
My reasons were based in part on the importance that I give to Dr. Ron Raymond’s new book, The Four Essential Ingredients to Good Parenting. It is a wonderful assessment of the subject, and I wanted to make sure that everyone was aware of this great new resource. In addition, I was questioning if my typical comments at this event had become too predictable or, perhaps, were now so widely quoted that they were unnecessary. Finally, I have been teased (good natured, of course) about my tendency at such events to speak for a longer period than perhaps might be necessary, so I wanted to be brief.

Afterwards, I heard from some parents who said that they “missed” my customary remarks and appreciated the traditional reminders that I regularly offer at the beginning of the academic year.

To rectify this, I am briefly summarizing that “script” in this post. Of course, I am not always sure who reads the various speeches, letters, or reflections I share but, nonetheless, it may be helpful to at least a few. My customary observations are as follows:

1. Our teachers want your child to succeed. They like adolescents and have chosen teaching primarily for that reason. They are also idealists by nature.

2. Please do not believe everything that your child says about what happened at school, and know that we will try to not believe everything your child says about what happens at home.

3. Assume that personal items (coats, sweatshirts, etc.) have been misplaced or lost, as opposed to being stolen.

4. Observe the speed limits and stop signs on campus and in town; stay off your cell phone!

5. Remember the importance of forbearance, especially when it comes to technology. In addition, regarding social media, less is more.

6. There is a dress code, and we need you as an ally in helping your child(ren) adhere to it.

7. Rumors and innuendo help no one, most are often inaccurate in several ways. Always remember that with gossip, “what goes around comes around”. Furthermore, try not to be critical of teachers, coaches, or administrators in front of your child. Such comments never help.

8. Please do not allow alcohol at parties you host.

9. Observe the “chain of command”. It is not that I don’t want to hear from parents; it is more that I don’t always know what has happened; by jumping over other administrators, vital information is often missing, and the miscommunication that follows creates additional problems.

10. One of the best ways to support your child at GSB is to volunteer and be a part of one or more of the activities of the Parents’ Association. However, avoid being over involved.

11. Resilience is one of the most important things we can help our children learn. If we do their work for them, or always try to solve their problems, they will never learn how to do these things for themselves. Failure itself is far less debilitating than the fear of failure.

Always remember that we are committed to supporting your children. However, schools are imperfect places; both children and adults make mistakes. That is why we need to continue working together when difficult situations arise. In the end, everyone, especially our children, will benefit from this partnership.
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.