“There’s only one thing we can be sure of, and that is the love that we have for our children, for our families, for each other. The warmth of a small child’s embrace, that is true.”

So spoke President Obama almost a year ago, in the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook.

Our work as a community is defined by the conditions in which we are collectively raising our children.  In this endeavor, the love that we share is our most treasured resource.  We have no tool as powerful as love to support child development.

This love is manifested in a myriad of ways in our community, only a small portion of which are ever visible and public.  Our children are blessed daily, as they leave the caring embrace of their parents and move into the warm arms of their teachers. This is true not only in the hugs we wash our children in but also in the emotional support and guidance we collectively offer.  This is one of our habits of heart – parents and teachers are daily partnering in the sharing of love for children.

To sustain this habit, we must pay attention to it. As our children are immersed in our collective care, it is important to occasionally pause and reflect on our partnership as parents and teachers.  Our upcoming Parent Teacher Conferences are one of our best opportunities to do this.

At your conference next week, you will find yourself in what Sarah Lawrence-Lightfoot terms a “sanctified space.”  Lightfoot, a sociologist and professor of education at Harvard since the 1970s, brings to mind the Jewish concept of kadosh, of “sanctity” and “holiness.”  In Judaism, we mark sanctity by distinction from the daily, from the regular.  In this sense, Lightfoot is correct in her nomenclature.  Our conferences are unlike all other interactions we have as partners; indeed, they are distinct and kadosh

Conferences are our private, intimate, chance to share the successes and challenges that our children face.  We use this sanctified space to investigate and create ways in which our love pours over our children, and to ensure that we are together providing the best environment possible. By sharing our observations of moments of mastery and moments of struggle, we can with honesty and candor ensure that our love reflects and supports our children’s individual journeys.  Only by truthfully sharing our thoughts is this made possible.

It is important for us as a community to carve out sanctified space throughout the year for these conversations to happen.  Your teachers are honored to invite you into that space and to share together the love we have for your children, for our students.

Shabbat shalom,