State College Friends School
Oh, what a wonderful start to the year we’ve had! There is something so magical about being here early in the morning on the first day of school. The building is clean and ready, every classroom is perfectly arranged and orderly, all of the adults are in place…and all we need to kick it all into gear is kids. You can almost hear the intake of breath as the first bus arrives, then the first parent car-pooler, and then the real magic begins. The building fills up again with the voices of children greeting friends and teachers. Their energy makes the air vibrate and suddenly lighten. We’re besieged with short people to begin tripping over again and with suddenly, surprisingly tall people who we need to look up at when we speak. We look at the large, unsure eyes of new kindergartners and our hearts melt as we say hello and try to silently transmit our confidence that all will be well. Children’s laughter fills the building once again, and it fills us, too, with light and hope and the absolute certainty of a wonderful year ahead. It’s a day that’s pretty hard to beat.
With the news of Larry’s impending departure, this year began in a less-than-typical manner. For those of you who have known only one head, it must be hard to imagine the place without Larry’s dynamic and energetic leadership. His contributions to the school have been enormous. Much of that is apparent to you in the increased strength of our academic program, and our excellent and devoted faculty. But, so much of a head’s work goes on behind the scenes. It is often not noticed by many, and sometimes appreciated by few, but without it the school would not be able to serve children, would not be in a position to improve, and eventually, would not function.
But, as distasteful as change can be, it does seem to be a constant and maybe good for us in the long run, although you’d often have a hard time convincing me of that. And as hard as it may be to lose a beloved head, the search for a successor can be an important time in the life of a school. This is the time we look at ourselves through new eyes. We consider who and what we need at this time in the school’s history, where our focus should be, and what’s next. We need to know what we need before we begin our search for the perfect match, and we’ll all be involved in that conversation in the coming months. Our new head will bring his or her own talents and vision and possibility, and, I would hope, a deep gratefulness for the inheritance of Larry’s hard work… and maybe a little of his musical talent, too. There is sadness in the departure, but excitement at what might lie ahead.
So, we begin the year with a new perspective, an unbridled optimism, and light hearts. It’s hard to feel any differently for very long when you’re surrounded by the 131 most beautiful children in the world.
Beloved assistant head of school and child whisperer, Mary retired in 2015. She is missed every day at Friends School.