Category Archives: Parents

An Ongoing Commitment

by Sam Houser

At a time when transgender rights are again in the news, I am writing to affirm George School’s own commitment to welcoming and including students and employees who are transgender or gender non-binary, or whose families may include members who identify as transgender or gender non-binary. Similarly, we welcome the presence, active engagement, talents, and support of our graduates who identify as transgender or gender non-binary.

In April of 2015, the George School Board approved a policy stating the school’s intention to welcome and include transgender students in our community. This included providing appropriate accommodations and a supportive residential environment for those who are boarders.

In February of 2017, the Friends Council on Education issued a statement affirming that, consistent with the Quaker testimony of equality, Friends schools strive to create communities inclusive of all students, including transgender and gender non-binary students.

Last spring, the Friends School League (FSL) also adopted a similar policy regarding the inclusion of transgender and gender non-binary students into athletics programs among FSL schools.

All of these developments reflect a deep commitment on the part of George School and other Friends schools to foster healthy and diverse educational communities by valuing, respecting, and drawing upon the richness of differences to strengthen our education. This commitment stems from the very underpinnings of Quakerism that include teaching there is that of God in every person, that all people are equal and deserve equal respect and treatment, and that healthy communities are those that accept and nurture differences.

George School is a rare place. Here, people of many identities, from around the world, live, learn, and play together. Being a George School community member entails engaging with new and sometimes uncomfortable perspectives. This can be hard work, but the effort is an important one that will help us diligently mind the Light and prepare us to do good inside our school community and beyond.

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Filed under Faculty, Head of School, Life After George School, Parents, Students

An Interview with Dawn, parent ’16

An interview with Dawn, parent ’16 conducted by Chloe ’16. Read on to find out what Dawn’s fears were about boarding school, how she came to terms with them, and the difference it has made for her family.  You can also check out some of Chloe’s other posts on the blog including: Pumpkin Spice Oreos, Filling Your Empty Canvases (Making a Dorm Room Feel Like a Home, Not a Box), and Speaking of Squirrels.

chd&mom

Chloe and her mom at a George School softball game.

How did you decide boarding school was the right fit for your child?

Initially, I was very hesitant. Sure, Chloe had been to her share of sleepovers and overnight camps. But none of these had lasted for more than a week at a time. And although, as a little girl, she had spent a whole summer abroad without me, she had stayed with family then, not a bunch of strangers at a faraway school.

My willingness to consider boarding school grew over time. At first I was only willing to consider “local” boarding schools — schools inside of the tri-state area. I figured if I could get to her, driving, in an hour or less, the distance wouldn’t be such a frightening thought. After spending a couple of days visiting a school in Connecticut, meeting other boarders there, and seeing Chloe make her way around the campus, the idea of letting her go a little further away began to seem less scary. On the ride to and from Connecticut, I realized how close New Haven was to New York. A couple of my very good friends from college live there, and it occurred to me that even though I would be several hours away, they would be able to get to Chloe in far less time if needed.

Then I started thinking about all of the places where we had family or very close friends who I could count on to be surrogate family in a pinch. I thought of my own experiences as an undergrad (and even a grad student) living far from home. I thought about all of the really strong friendships that came of my time away from home. I realized that those friends became my chosen family, and that college and grad school was my home away from home. That’s when the boarding school decision became an easy one to make. That’s when I realized that it was the right fit, not just for Chloe, but for me, too. Continue reading

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Each Child is Different

This post was written by Rebecca, mom of Quin ’09 and Faith ’17.

Each child is different, I was telling myself, taking a nostalgic walk around the George School campus. Be the best mother you can be and allow them to follow their own hearts. I was back in Newtown for a revisit day with my youngest child, Faith. She was weighing the pros and cons of enrolling as a boarder at George School, just as her older brother, Quin, had seven years ago.

Quin, now 22, started at George School in the fall of 2006. He was a dispirited 14-year-old, given to wearing the hood of his sweatshirt up so that his face was hidden. While he had never known failure, he had also never known ease in school. Over-measured, frequently-tested, quantified and profiled, he had all but disappeared under that hood. I knew my boy was in there, my magical and quirky child who could figure out how to take apart my Kitchenaid mixer and fix it, my marvelously funny kid who could read a room better than he could read a book, but I couldn’t quite find him.

Leaving him at George School was a leap of faith for me and relief for him. Quin discovered himself during his years there, somewhere between that third floor room in Orton and Carter’s woodshop. The hood came down, the smile was easy on his face. He grew tall and winsome; he made a lot of jokes. He hijacked the Westtown moose head. I got comments from the Admissions Office, where his co-op was to be a tour guide.

“We love Quin. We just wish he wouldn’t give tours in his pajamas.”

“What?” he asked when confronted. “It makes people realize they can be comfortable here.”

He also had his struggles. I became more intimate with the Dean’s office than I wished. I sought solace on the porch of Main with Jenna, his advisor who quickly became mine, too. Between the struggles, he was encouraged. He learned that he would be valued after making a mistake, maybe even more so for having fallen down, gotten up, and dusted himself off. He found himself to be a gifted artist, a valued friend, a trusted ally.

His senior year, he took an unfinished hunk of wood and made it into a glowing bowl with a deep curve to the rim. When he gave it to me, he explained that the weight of the bowl would settle into the shape of my palm, making the heavy thing almost weightless. He found, in this elegantly articulate way, the marriage between form and function, between the prosaic and the lyric, the beauty in the every day. And he did it without words.

Now Faith, his sister, was thinking about coming to George School. Her brother was on the west coast in design school, distant enough in time that only a handful of faculty would describe her as “Quin’s sister” rather than Faith. Still, as the youngest of four, she wanted her own place, her own story, her own adventure. She didn’t want to walk in anyone’s footsteps.

I wanted her to have the same revelatory experience her brother had; I wanted her to learn there are many different paths, all equally valuable, to finding your gifts. I wanted her at George School, where I knew she would be seen and heard, not just measured and tested. I wanted to take her by her slim shoulders and say “This is your place, not just your brother’s.”

I knew I couldn’t pick a school for her; I knew I had to let her choose for herself. So on that revisit day, I took one last long walk around George School, stopping where Quin had graduated, so dapper in his jacket that day, all the white of the girls’ dresses, the green of the grass, the light so kind and sweet and soft after those dark first days.

I said a silent thank you to George School and got into the car with Faith, ready to hear she had decided to go to a different school, a new place where she could make her own way.

I started the car and drove the long way out, past the barn.

“I’m going to George School,” Faith said before I had pulled out into traffic.

“I feel like the people here are good to each other all the time, not just when other people are watching.”

And so it begins.

A new path.

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