Kindergarten student delivering flowers to a teacherby Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School

What is the first word that comes to mind that begins with the letter K? Ask any MPA kindergarten student and they will quickly tell you, “Kindness!” I had barely left my post at the front door Monday morning when a kindergartner presented me a bouquet of Black-eyed Susans from our own school garden. Several weeks ago, an MPA parent sent me a handwritten note in the mail thanking me for my leadership after noticing I looked like I was carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders during one of our Town Halls. New sixth grade student, Ari R., gushed about how nice everyone is at MPA, especially the teachers, on his first day of school.

Watching the news these days or the postings on social media can be depressing. We are confronted with images and stories of violence, civil unrest, vitriol, and discord. One could believe that our world is bereft of kindness and goodwill in this time of crisis. In reality, we often fail to notice or celebrate the daily occurrences that advance the idea of humanity’s innate goodness. A visit to the site of George Floyd’s murder this summer brought tears to my eyes. The outpouring of kindness overwhelmed me as I observed donations of everyday supplies that filled sidewalks and bottled water and food was offered freely.

Without a doubt, these are tough times and we do not know how long we will be called upon to persevere. Speaking to artists, Toni Morrison said the following, “This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.” The battle against hopelessness and helplessness is won though action. As I encouraged faculty and staff recently, “Let the moments of grace, small and large, your experiences, in the classroom or in fulfilling your responsibilities, be a source of energy and hope as we move through these times.”

Similar to first responders and the medical community, teacher’s sense of self often takes a back seat to a greater good, a higher purpose. And parents do the same thing. At times like these, we must lean into our common values, especially that life is meaningful and the innate goodness of humankind. In the time of COVID-19, we must do more than just “Be Safe” and “Be Smart.” We must, above all, “Be Kind.” Let that be our legacy as a school community.

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