“Relationships of trust are more important than teaching strategies.”
You heard me quote this line, by Alison Gopnik, at our Parent Orientation earlier this week. With a new school year underway, our attention focuses on building those relationships with each of our families. School is a place where community is built, one relationship at a time.
One of the Jewish values that we hold dear at our school is that of brit, of “covenantal relationship” as a loose translation from the Hebrew might have it. Years ago, our staff re-named this value, now adorning the bulletin board in our Common Space, as “Promises and Partnerships.” At the beginning of the year, we each – as teachers and parents – make promises to each other as we enter this partnership. We promise to act with loving-kindness towards your child while she is with us, promoting an atmosphere of Love and Hope. We promise to establish a partnership of honesty and respect, of dialogue and support.
The Hebrew word brit is found early in the Torah, in Genesis chapter 9 as the Noah’s Ark story comes to a cinematic conclusion. A series of birds have been let loose from the boat, each seeking dry land. When a bird finally finds dry land, the flood is declared over. The boat eventually finds dry land as well and settles down, its passengers disembarking. God now speaks to Noah and his family, dramatically pronouncing, “I now establish My covenant (brit) with you.” The rest of the Torah, and indeed our history as a People, springs forth from this promise, from this partnership. All of the struggles and joy, the hardship and beauty, that unfold in the Torah occur within the parameters of this brit.
This week is our “dry land”, our moment to disembark from our familial ships and stand firmly as a community together. A moment occurs each morning, as you drop your child off with our teachers, in which, to borrow the words from the Torah, a covenant is established. We are bonded together, school and family – inseparably so. The year to come will have many ups and downs: celebration, beauty, and miracles, along with doubt, frustration, and sorrow. The stronger the partnership we establish together, the ups will be more joyous and the downs will be more easily navigable.
Together, within our partnership, we promise to always be there with you, and we ask the same of you. When you are overjoyed with your child’s teachers, please tell them so. When you are frustrated at a perceived slight or a confusing comment, please communicate with us. This bond is ever-lasting yet complex, both natural and antagonistic. At the center of our partnership is your child: an always-changing dynamic entity, seen differently in different contexts by different adults. Our promise to you is that we will always see your child with love and hope, and our partnership will be built as a relationship of trust.
The brit between school and family is what makes us a community. We are looking forward to many wonderful months ahead of you, your child, and our teachers working together.