A Safe Haven

"I am confident that the world will be safer and better when we all make way for these amazing girls to gently lead us into the light."

In spite of all that has happened around the world, I remain unabashedly optimistic. It is hard to believe that I could feel this way after reading the paper this week, and Las Vegas has truly shaken me to my core. The idea of shooting with the intent to kill innocent people while they were enjoying a concert, whether in London, Paris, or in our own country, defies all that we know to be true and good.

As I said at Parents' Night of Classes, I wish I could protect your children at all times and yet I know that it is not possible. Hard as we try, we may not be able to protect ourselves from natural disasters or random acts of violence, but we can shield our children from overexposure to media recounting devastation and violence. I suggest that you listen to your children and answer their questions openly and honestly, and then turn off the television and the 24/7 news cycle. Make home a safe haven. We will continue to work hard to be prepared for the unimaginable while keeping school an emotionally safe space as well. Your children are more caring, adventurous, and compassionate than I ever was, and yet they are aware of more than I could have imagined knowing. I never worried and was fairly confident that hiding under a wooden desk would keep me safe from an atomic bomb. Our children are growing up knowing so much more.

I was at school in Philadelphia on 9/11 with four upper school classes out on field trips and one en route to DC. As I wrapped my mind around what was happening in real time, I was gripped by unimaginable fear. In spite of unreliable technology and the lack of connection, we had to get our students back safely. I went home late that night numb with grief and exhaustion, but with all accounted for. As I slumped on the couch, I heard a television update that all Philadelphia public and parochial schools would be closed the following day. I called my board chair and my three divisions directors to say we would be open. I needed school to be a refuge and the place that was shelter and comfort for all.

At Marlborough, we have amazing division directors, deans, and teachers who have a strong sense of the students and their needs. We also have two full-time school psychologists on campus who are incredibly accessible and connected to the girls. They have sent resources to all of our teachers so that if something comes up in class, they feel empowered and prepared to have a discussion. It is my philosophy to conduct school in a manner that feels routine and normal. At this moment our psychologists are on the frontline, and as we learned in a recent student survey, the vast majority of students know there is an adult on campus to whom they can go to if they need to speak to someone.

For me at this moment, I want all of us to demonstrate compassion and bravery. Our students have collected truckloads of supplies and raised money for our hurricane and earthquake survivors. But we all must also celebrate the world in which we live and live without fear for the things over which we have no control. I am confident that the world will be safer and better when we all make way for these amazing girls to gently lead us into the light. They are tomorrow's leaders and I relish the pleasure of watching them sit outside my office, eating lunch and talking to one another. Seniors are thinking about college applications and stressing in that good way that also makes them laugh. I have talked to the girls as they go about their day and the world at Marlborough feels as it should.


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