From the Director: Reasons to Be Thankful, Part 20

It may have taken a while to get to the annual gratitude holiday, so late in arriving this year, but with grandparents and special friends here and the Mystery Turkey revealed, let the celebrations continue. For me, watching the little trotters clad in paper bag costumes for two full decades now, it carries special meaning. So here goes a litany of things on my desk worthy of pausing for appreciation.
For students, like those who made Noche Latina happen, or Middle School soccer, or the Model UN Court of Justice. We regularly hear about overscheduled and too-busy young people, but then we see them rally around an idea or an opportunity, and somehow they make time. The students in Aliados and families in HOLA shared culture and cuisine with us as never before, while four score-plus classmates were in the global mecca of Murfreesboro representing dozens of countries via resolutions, court cases, and lively debate, hot on the heels of Legally Blonde filling the house. Then our MS lads won the whole darn HVAC tourney with a brand of soccer so beautiful that it was evident even to me. And these are just pieces of lives unfolding, representative of the sense of purpose revealed in the choices of the young people we see every day.
For faculty like those who cared for our burgeoning and trophy-heavy cross country teams, who brought the groundbreaking Lower School identity unit to life, reminding us to be thankful for those around us and for who we are, and who shepherded a sixth grade band of more than five dozen musicians to catch the attention of our concert Thursday night. They opened their classrooms to all comers on Saturday for the Open Houses, and not surprisingly, they impressed our guests. So much of the good our students do comes to being with an assist from this dedicated faculty.
For our Board, who gathered last Monday, more than 60 strong past and present, who’ve quietly and courageously guided USN across five decades now since what we euphemistically call “The Transition” from Demonstration School days. Watching them share stories linking past and present left me even more upbeat about the future. If you’d like to see the reflections I shared with them the next day, here’s a link. You'd be hard-pressed to find a more thoughtful and less ego-driven governance group anywhere.
For USNA, now with several of the year’s biggies successfully completed— a glorious Fall Fest to bring us together and home before dark, a Book Frenzy that defies all the end times prophecies for the printed word, and an all-time record Artclectic that appears to have yielded a $100K contribution to the Endowment for Innovative Teaching. So for an encore, these volunteers are ready to unveil another awesome Evening Classes lineup. Did I ever mention how appreciative I am that they do all this instead of a big-ticket auction or gala? USNA reads us right and brings us together.
For our hardworking Operations team, o they of the can-do attitude, setting and resetting the same room, sometimes three or four events’ worth in a single day. From pre-dawn to late night, they work the security/welcome desks, they remain patient when we are less than our best behind the wheel, they fix the plane while we’re flying it, and somehow they keep smiling when events or transportation or utilities or weather throw us a curveball. And they maintain mighty high standards for their own work. I see it every day, really in every office that works in support of our aspirations as a school.
For our alumni, like Adrien Saporiti ’06 and Colin Pigott ’03 volunteering to create the High School Entrepreneur class, Roz Helderman ’97 writing headlines for the Post as Washington is rocked by current moment, and the dozen members of our National Alumni Board of Visitors who returned this month for the 10th annual sojourn back to connect cities with the highest concentrations of our graduates. In their lives and the 4,000+ other diploma holders out there walking the earth, we find the school’s great treasure, and more are returning to Nashville by the month.
For our community partners, including the now-dozens of Horizons program families, the good people at Habitat for Humanity, at Cameron College Prep and Carter-Lawrence, and at several other Metro schools with whom our students and teachers connect through programs largely driven by our students. And for the Educators' Cooperative, now incubated and thriving across our city after a grassroots start in our hallways.
For all the extended family members who encourage and inspire and underwrite us across generations, so many of whom are back this week to share a big meal or an every-seat-full Sperling Gymnasium to see what magic Music Teacher Doni Princehorn has mustered this year, or an early morning Boulevard Bolt. In the end, we are and have always been a big, beautiful collection of families, different every year but alike in appreciation for the chance to learn from one another.
What strikes me most is the way that each of these constituent slices of the USN pie is so directly reliant on and enriched by all the others. It takes each of us to “do” USN, to do school the way we love most, the way that’s best. May you find a moment to appreciate your part in the way it all connects, and thanks for allowing me all these years to see it and live it up close.
Happy Thanksgiving,
    • Director Vince Durnan waltzes with Fourth Grade Teacher Kim Avington during Parents' Day on Monday, November 25.

    • Director Vince Durnan welcomes prospective families during Open House on Saturday, November 23.

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