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Gratitude, Details, and Perseverance

 Dear TGS Families:

As we end the week together, I find myself wanting to express gratitude for the following:

  1. The sight of our students arriving on campus for registration over the past two weeks
  2. The incredibly talented staff and faculty who continue to orchestrate back-to-school events and plans for the upcoming school year in new and creative ways
  3. The Board of Trustees who have met throughout the summer to ensure we had the support and guidance needed during this unprecedented time
  4. And you—our families who have remained steadfast and true to our mission of how we educate young people throughout this tumultuous time

Thank you! By now you have received a separate invitation to join us for a “Welcome Back Parade” on campus next Wednesday evening, August 19th, from 6-7 p.m. Our intent is to provide a fun activity for you and your children—teachers will be present along the parade route introducing themselves to you in a myriad of creative ways. We’ll have stops along the way, including a gift from our Family Association and from SAGE, our food service provider. The class of 2021 should be sure to stop by the senior table for a surprise. You are welcome to put a sign on your car introducing yourselves, but please don’t feel any obligation to do so. The only rules are to drive slowly, safely, and stay in your car.  Staff members will be directing traffic to ensure everyone’s safety as well.

What is happening with athletics? We’ve not yet landed on a solid position, but here’s what we do know. Dr. Francisco Garcia, with the Pima County Health Department, strongly advised school leaders during a meeting I attended on Monday not to support competitions with other schools this coming season. He acknowledged the benefit of exercise, skill development and socialization with sports that have natural social distancing (e.g., golf, tennis, and possibly swimming). But even with that, what do we do when 30 students want play Middle School tennis? Do we rotate a smaller number from week to week? Walk to Ft. Lowell Park using the Rillito River Walk since we can’t transport students safely in a van? I share these examples only to illustrate that there are no easy answers and that we’re still working to figure out what we can offer safely to our students in the coming weeks and months. Thank you for your patience.

When reflecting on our current state of affairs, I’m drawn to lessons from history regarding courage and perseverance. There may be no better well-known example than our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln. After failing in business in 1831 and again in 1833, losing every asset he owned and without the protection of modern bankruptcy laws (he was required to repay 100% of the debt – $1,000 – over 17 years), losing a state legislative seat, mourning the death of his fiancée, experiencing two more losses in congressional elections as well as two U.S. Senate elections, and finally, being defeated after a run for Vice President, he continued to persist. Despite the myriad of setbacks, he persevered and was elected president in 1860.   

Perseverance is a trait that can be encouraged and strengthened with practice. There will be no better “lab experience” for all of us than the path we will travel together over the next several months. Working with us to encourage your children to persevere with their studies, persevere with their routines, and persevere knowing that there is a school community network here to support all of you, will ultimately create a mental model of what it feels like to “carry on” with courage and hard work. We are proud of our tradition of producing graduates well prepared for their post-secondary studies and life. Our current set of circumstances actually presents us with an opportunity to enhance students’ preparation through our own modeling of perseverance and courage. We can do this if we do it together.  

Thank you for your continued support.

Warm regards,

Julie A. Sherrill, Ph.D.
Head of School

"The Gregory School is a place that is transforming learning and transforming students' lives. Gregory students lead institutions; they found movements; they invent technology; they run cities. Students leave TGS with a sense of agency; they believe they can change the world for the better and it is our aim to ensure we give them the knowledge, skills, experiences and confidence to do so."
Dr. Julie A. Sherrill, Head of School
Dr. Julie Sherrill has spent over 20 years in educational leadership. Her academic credentials include an M.S. in Education Administration and a Ph.D. from The Ohio State University in Curriculum Development and Teacher Professional Development.