Associate Head of School Dale Smith on Opening Day

Off Key sings for Opening of School Meeting

The opening faculty meeting, which took place this morning, is a meaningful and time honored ritual at Newman. T.J. Locke, our Head of School, Tripp Friedler, Chair of the Board of Governors, and I welcomed the full faculty and staff in Henson Auditorium.

The meeting began with a dynamic and energetic opening performance by Off Key, the Upper School a capella group. T.J. then welcomed everyone with his opening remarks and goals for the school year. Tripp, speaking on behalf of the Board of Governors, extended his greetings and appreciation for the dedication and hard work of our teachers. I expressed my enthusiasm and optimism about returning to Newman in my new role as Associate Head of School.  The administrators from the various divisions of our school recognized and introduced the educators new to our school community.

We concluded the meeting with a poem by Howard Neverov entitled September, the First Day of School, an emotional portrayal of this exciting time of year.  Below is a copy of the poem, a piece that resonates with both teachers and parents.

September, The First Day of School

by Howard Nemerov

My child and I hold hands on the way to school,
And when I leave him at the first-grade door
He cries a little but is brave; he does
Let go. My selfish tears remind me how
I cried before that door a life ago.
I may have had a hard time letting go.

Each fall the children must endure together
What every child also endures alone:
Learning the alphabet, the integers,
Three dozen bits and pieces of a stuff
So arbitrary, so peremptory,
That worlds invisible and visible

Bow down before it, as in Joseph’s dream
The sheaves bowed down and then the stars bowed down
Before the dreaming of a little boy.
That dream got him such hatred of his brothers
As cost the greater part of life to mend,
And yet great kindness came of it in the end.

II
A school is where they grind the grain of thought,
And grind the children who must mind the thought.
It may be those two grindings are but one,
As from the alphabet come Shakespeare’s Plays,
As from the integers comes Euler’s Law,
As from the whole, inseparably, the lives,

The shrunken lives that have not been set free
By law or by poetic phantasy.
But may they be. My child has disappeared
Behind the schoolroom door. And should I live
To see his coming forth, a life away,
I know my hope, but do not know its form

Nor hope to know it. May the fathers he finds
Among his teachers have a care of him
More than his father could. How that will look
I do not know, I do not need to know.
Even our tears belong to ritual.
But may great kindness come of it in the end.

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