The past few weeks at Jarrow have been marked by a sweet collection of rituals and precious moments. They have ranged between Field Day and Earth Day to the deliberate serving of tea, from hikes and piñatas, to the sharing of work and specially designed events. There have been gestures of gratitude with flowers and handwritten notes (not the least of which included a chorus of Lower Elementary students arriving upstairs yesterday, to present an original composition of gratitude that began, “Dear The Office”). It is beautiful to witness our children expressing sincere and spontaneous gratitude to one another and also for their school. Graduation on Wednesday night was a stunning consolidation of just that, as our sixth graders spoke straight from their hearts with remarkable confidence and grace.
The degree of satisfaction exchanged in Jarrow’s celebration practices and some of the simplest gatherings and conversations can be a beacon of assurance. In contrast, how many times have you picked up a dazed child from a social event? There is, alas, a common misconception that in order for children at parties or celebrations to enjoy themselves robustly, they require high levels of sugar, noisemakers, paper plates or Uncle Pete in a Ninja costume. While it’s true that children like bright colors, sweets, and surprises, it is not necessarily true that such things are satisfying.
Let’s consider the alternative, in light of what we know about nurturing the inner life of the child. Let’s imagine celebrations that accommodate our children’s need for purposeful activity and recognize their inherent ability to be satisfied with what is simple when it’s real.
In her book, To Dance With God, Gertrude Mueller Nelson tells how a four-year-old describes her daughter’s response to a children’s party with mythology as the theme. “Oh you know, mythology,” she told her mother, “they are stories that are not true on the outside, but they are true on the inside” (To Dance With God, Paulist Press, p.76).
Isn’t it our task to help our children find the compass by which they can locate the truth on the inside? And what a powerful discovery this can be. For inner truth is ultimately the place where conscience and self-awareness begin, where morality develops, and with it, compassion, kindness, and respect. These are the tenets of inner peace, a peace that becomes true on the outside too.
It is, as Dr. Montessori wrote, that which “will mark the beginning of a radiant future for mankind”.
As you move about the Jarrow campus, you may notice new signs of Jarrow’s intentional thread and practices of peace. There are the incredible totems and the fresh rose bush our graduates recently planted. Early summer is taking hold in our lovingly tended school garden, the student crafted prayer flags fly in the breezes, and even the collection of hand-painted peace rocks seems to be multiplying. Each of these is evidence and extension of intentional celebrations and peaceful moments where Jarrow students and staff have gathered, have celebrated, have been satisfied and affirmed.
With these as our beacon, may the deep breath of summer help clear and prepare the way for ever-increasing days of peace and joy for your children and for you.
Interim Head of School
on behalf of Mercedes Dugan, Associate Interim Head of School
and our faculty and staff