|Dear Woods Families
When preparing what I wanted to say in response to my staff farewell last week, and now again as I pen my final newsletter, I was drawn to the words I had crafted for our web page. As I searched for what it was that I wished to impart about this magnificent place, the School-in-the-Woods, I found the answer in my own words which describes it as a “place of wonder where the magic of early childhood is celebrated. A sanctuary of childhood where colours are brighter, the air softer and the morning more fragrant than ever again. A Sanctuary which is play-based, child-centered and intentionally designed to nurture, guide and support each individual’s development along their academic journey. A sanctuary which fosters a deep sense of belonging where every little girl is celebrated for who she is. From saving “lost” butterflies to riding the bikes, from science experiments to baking, from music and movement to arts and crafts, from reading and writing and counting and estimating, the discovery of new things abound!”
The concept of the Woods and St Cyprian’s being a sanctuary is what I would like to celebrate in my final newsletter and share with you the beautiful reasons that I know it to be so.
A Sanctuary of Purpose:
My 6 years as Head of the Woods has been a gift and has provided me with a place in which I could express my calling and live out my sense of meaning and purpose. A place which has healed my heart and uplifted my spirit during times of sorrow and heartache. A place where my personality has been given the space to be expressed and appreciated.
A Sanctuary of Connectedness:
Working with my team of outstanding educators and support staff known as the “Woods Dream Team” is where trust and belief in one another is expressed in a professional space of mutual appreciation. The love, care and support during the ups and downs of life and the words of encouragement have built many, many bonds. The laughs and the jokes have all gone towards building that sanctuary of deep, meaningful connectedness amongst my team for which I am deeply grateful.
A Sanctuary of Belonging:
I have seen the joy on the faces of our little girls who know and feel within that they belong, that they are “enough” and that they have found their little spot, their niche. This is the power of belonging to a community, where a deep sense of purpose and connectedness which is the right of every little girl who walks into the Woods abounds. I know this and I believe it to be an integral part of the Woods DNA.
A Sanctuary of Faith:
Our beautiful Chapel offers a sanctuary of peace and hope and I have been so grateful for the opportunity to express my faith and share this with my school community within this sacred place. Rev Andrew has created a safe space for many and my grateful thanks go out to him for his warmth, wisdom and deep kindness and compassion.
A Sanctuary of Collegiality:
Working alongside Mrs teWater and Ms Wallace as part of the Executive Management team has been a highlight for me and I take with me many valuable lessons from the time spent around the table with them.
A Sanctuary of “Offices”
Ms deKlerk’s little office must be the place where the magic worker resides! I will miss popping my head into her office on my return from chapel so we can plot and plan the next project for the Woods! She is a servant-hearted wonder-woman!
My beautiful office in the Woods has been a sanctuary for many people over the past 6 years; staff, children and parents alike. Thank you for entrusting your daughters to our care, for being willing to chat things over when the going got tough and for sharing so many pearls of wisdom with me. I have valued these conversations immensely and I will miss much about my special office “sanctuary” which could tell many stories!
Mrs Mohamed’s office is a buzz of activity with people of all ages coming and going all day long. Always seeking to put my needs first, she has been absolutely amazing and my deepest thanks go to her for providing sanctuary for me in her unfailing support and generosity of spirit to get the job done, no matter what!
A Sanctuary of Mentorship:
I have been immensely fortunate to have spent the past 6 years working with Mrs Redelinghuys. Her office was always a sanctuary of support and guidance, wisdom and protection and for that I will always be deeply grateful. My learning curve has been steep and I have learnt from the best, the lady with the nerves of steel and quiet resolve to get that job done. I hope to make you proud, Sue as I step into my next role of leadership.
A Sanctuary of Home and Family:
There is nothing to compare with the love of family, the admiration and support they extend and the listening ear. Their love, support and belief in me is a sanctuary like no other.
And so, in closing, I leave you with this magnificent quote which speaks to the power of building community and providing a sanctuary space for another.
“Offering sanctuary is a revolutionary act; it expresses love, when others offer scorn or hate. It recognizes humanity when others deny and seek to debase it. Sanctuary says “we” rather than “I”. It is the building block of community” Diane Kalen-Sukra
As parents, I encourage you to remember that you and your home is where your circle of influence can play out so powerfully as you all seek to create connections and form long-lasting friendships. YOU are the ones building this dream so never let go of the fight for the underdog, the fight for doing right, the fight for “we” rather than “me”, the fight for community and a deep sense of belonging.
In closing, there are no words to describe my gratitude for the love and appreciation extended to me, especially over the past few weeks. The marble bench in the fairy garden and the exquisite painting from the Gr R girls are both timeless gifts which will ensure that something of my passion and heart will live on in this wondrous place. Thank you for the thoughtfulness behind these gifts and for the enormous show of generosity in making them happen. Your many emails of thanks for the Angel Plays, the Gr 00 and Gr R Nativity Plays and the Gr R Blazer Ceremony have brought me much joy as I delight in knowing they enriched your lives.
As I start to wrap up and pack that last box my heart is full and my love goes with you all as you enjoy a family-filled festive season of holiday fun. Wishing you all a blessed Christmas and a prosperous new year.