Staff have to check in, too?

From the point of view of a brand new student, the school is an astonishing (if sometimes overwhelming) place. The freedom to manage one’s own time is generally the first aspect of the school noticed, and it is what attracts a new student first.

The fairness of the school and its systems, exemplified through the Judicial Committee, is eventually discovered. The power of the School Meeting, and its careful, thorough examination of whatever comes before it, is also part of the picture that develops.

Respect is underneath it all. The genuine community sense that every person in the school is capable, intelligent, thoughtful, and worthy of respect, informs everything the school does. The clearest sign of this universal respect, which is its own little shock, is that the whole community is equal before the law.

I remember my first days as a student, and just how amazing it was when I first realized (in my gut, rather than just intellectually) that the rules applied equally to staff and students. This realization is key to understanding the school. This is where the rubber meets the road.

Once in a long while, a student writes a judicial complaint against a staff member for something mundane. Perhaps the staff member left food unattended, or had a hot drink away from a table. A great deal of fulfillment comes from writing such a complaint, and seeing the complaint to its conclusion.

This morning, I greeted two students at the check-in list (where the school keeps track of people’s attendance, and who is present, by having people record their times of arrival and departure). One of the students has been enrolled for a few years, and one was brand new. After our greetings passed, and we had each checked in, a shocked and joyous expression crossed the face of the newer girl. “Staff have to check in, too?”

The views expressed on this page are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Sudbury Valley School.