In mid-August the school is in a chaotic state of renovations and deep and thorough cleaning. The furniture is piled up in the corridors, the musical instruments are strewn over the barn floor and lots of people are all over the place fixing things, painting and doing carpentry. It is not fit for company, but how could we say, “No, don’t come now” to a request to visit, made by a former student and two staff members who arrived in the U.S. all the way from the Tokyo Sudbury school?
The student was Hana Ishida, who attended SVS for three years while her parents were in the U.S. She was seven when she first enrolled in the fall of 2005, was fluent in English, and was a person much loved by the whole community. Upon the family’s return to their home in Japan, Sudbury Tokyo school was founded, and now Hana is eighteen and ready to graduate.
The two staff were Ayaka and Masaru Sugiyama. They met while working at Sudbury Tokyo. For their honeymoon they came to SVS to thank us for being the catalyst for their first encounter, and for developing the Sudbury way of educating children. “You made us happy as well as the children,” they wrote in the note accompanying a gorgeous painting that they gifted us, now exhibited proudly in school.
It was a very emotional reunion for us all. For us who work at SVS day-in, day-out, it has been an ongoing commitment to make our school strong and viable. We haven’t set out to change the world. Yet it is gratifying to realize that lots of people all over the world are working their hearts out to give children freedom and responsibility to pursue their education.
Before they left I took Hana to all the places she loved as a little girl: the art room, the swings, the rocks and the barn. Many good memories flooded her, and many photos were taken in all these places. All in all, this visit turned out to be delightful for all of us.