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Family Essay Contest
We asked families to write an essay on the following topic: how we as families, individuals, and a community can “best acknowledge, support and enrich” the teaching staff at Sunfield.
The winner was Heather McRae-Woolf, parent to a 1st grade student.
To support and Enrich our Faculty: A land for Learning for All
by: Heather McRae-Woolf
When we, as parents, send our children to school, we entrust them to the care of other adults, teachers. We ask teachers to love our children and guide them, to equip our children to change the world. Teachers help paint the picture of the society of the future.
In many religious traditions, the teachers were those who had practiced their own faith to such a point that they could speak with some amount of holy authority. What is the holy authority of teachers today in secular schools? I believe teachers gain the equivalent of holy authority by practicing an open-hearted relationship to the children in their care. By seeking to understand and serve the multi-layered needs of all students. They are humble learners alongside their students.
To acknowledge, support and enrich our faculty, I suggest that we return to the description of Sunfield as a “land for learning”. How can we deepen the meaning of that description so that faculty members are su
pported in their own learning? How can we remain conscious of faculty and families learning side by side?
Families can support faculty by nurturing the web of relationships – our own relationships with teachers, our children’s relationships with teachers, our relationships with other parents, and our children’s relationships with their peers. We can support faculty by listening to their wisdom and by communicating the wisdom we have gained in raising our children. We support our children
and their teachers by being learners ourselves.
Families can best support faculty if we are participants in the school as a while, not just as financial donors or as extra hands to clean the classroom (important as both of those functions are), but as voices in the community. Developing an active parent council could support faculty by providing a consistent vehicle for parent involvement. If we engage in ongoing communal conversation, differences of opinion will surface, bet given enough opportunities for respectful dialogue, these differences could deepen the educational experience for all.
What can we do to enrich faculty? I would love to see teachers, in private and public schools, given the resources and rewards appropriate for those who take on awesome responsibility of tending to the development of future communities by nurturing the growth of children. At Sunfield, I would like to see the teachers receive greater financial compensation and accompanying benefits, like health insurance. But the point of this essay is not to tackle thorny financial issues, since I do not claim an in-depth understanding of Sunfield’s budget.
What can we offer without battling the intricacies of financial spreadsheets? Teachers need time for reflection and retreat, sometimes with other faculty members and sometimes alone. Teachers, like all of us, need opportunities to develop new skills, to gain new perspectives on their work. Perhaps we, as a parent body, could pool our skills and resources to offer a menu of options for expanded study and retreat.
The possibilities are endless- and entertaining! For example, a dance teacher parent might offer a free or discounted dance class; a massage therapist might offer massages; an expert in habitat restoration might offer a guided hike; a family with a boat might offer a boat ride…Each teacher could select from these offerings the classes or experiences that best meet her or his needs.
May we, as a while community, experience abundance. May Sunfield gain new dimensions as a “Land for Learning” for all.