Last May, I visited the Fairhaven School to be a part of their Diploma Committee. So, I missed most of two days of school here at SVS. No matter how many times I go away, I'm never prepared for how it will feel when I return. In the abstract, I know that I've only been gone for a couple of days, and that I have been gone in the past for longer periods. But when it happens, it is so much more emotionally laden than one could possibly expect.
This time, I returned at about 3:00 pm on a Tuesday. A lot of drama had filled the school while I was gone. A small boy, who has a great deal in common with a flying squirrel, had fallen and cut himself badly near his eye. (Our friends and carpenters, Kevin and Glen, who have been building the new bike shed and repairing some windows, adore watching this child. He's so daring, happy and free that they refer to him as "the kid who has to be duct-taped down.") So one of the things I wanted to know right away was how our little flying squirrel was doing. The very reasonable answer I received, "He's not in school because he can't run around for 48 hours." (We don't do duct-taping!)
The Judicial Committee had a hard case that it dealt with over many hours. The musical was in deep, serious rehearsal. College admissions, which I feel attached to because these are "our" students, had been moving along. Kids came running up to me, throwing their arms around me and talking about what had gone on in the past two days. Before I went home at the end of the day, I felt like I'd been admitted back into the loop of SVS life.
But, on Wednesday, the Judicial Committee called me in to ask about a complaint I had written. The room contained: the Committee of eight, several witnesses, a visitor, an observing staff member, and a few J.C. groupies, who always want to keep their fingers on the pulse of daily events. There must have been about 16 or so people in the room. Some of them had not seen me yet that week so there was some catching up to do! Everyone in the room, not as one but each one separately, said "Hi, Mimsy." It sent a thrill up my spine to be welcomed in that way. And then we talked about the complaint, and I left them to their work on it.
It is hard to explain how those greetings felt. It is extraordinarily moving to be so easily and warmly accepted as part of the pack. After all, they are kids and I have grandkids older than most of them. But once again, immediately, I was their peer. I respect and am respected. It is so simple really.
People ask me what I do at school, and it is often hard to say. But one thing I know is how I feel. Each year the staff has to be re-elected. Or not. Each year (so far) I have been. The election is always nerve-wracking but it means something extremely special: it gives you confidence that you are working in a school where the students want you.
And the kids give you so much!