A big part of life here for me so far revolves around wondering if this thing or that thing exists at Island School. Near the top of the list lately for me is what most schools would call a parent association, or an organization of families. How could there not be? But then again, COVID, which wiped out all kinds of familiar structures and key ingredients in all kinds of settings. So, I went looking, and here’s what turned up:
Not surprisingly, in years past parents and families joined in just such a group—it’s probably not an exaggeration to say that had they not, the school might not even be here for us to love now. At the same time, it’s also true that for a variety of reasons, pandemic first among them, the pause button was pushed, and without any definitive plan to get back in gear. Then in the absence of an umbrella organization to tie all our efforts together, it’s fair to say that we’ve learned to live without (as we do pretty often) and form other, more specific organizations to meet pretty obvious needs. The Booster Club and Science Olympiad fan memberships offer two examples.
Enter Yunah Lee Joseph P ‘30 and Erin ’02 Shaw Gushman P ’33 and ‘35, following on the praiseworthy effort of Matt Hall P ’21, ’23,and ’28 to keep the flame alive through the down times. Erin and Yunah very recently volunteered, with Matt in emeritus role, to lead the charge and reconvene our association of families, including but not limited to helping with the following—setting a meeting calendar, connecting our room parents, organizing some overdue get-to-know-each-other socials around the island, coordinating faculty and staff appreciation projects, wrangling volunteers for important celebratory days, supporting fund raising events for activities beyond what our operating budget currently can carry, and welcoming new people to the school. Their brainstorming list goes beyond even this hefty list, but there’s a window onto where we’re headed.
Imagine all that’s possible if we combine forces and link arms in an organized, intentional, inclusive way. For the record, if you’re a parent/guardian here, you’re a member of this association—no dues, no other requirements. And for the record, by the time May rolls around, we should have kept a count of what proportion of our entire group was part of any effort included under the broad heading of Parent Association-connected stuff. My goal, and based on what would be considered elsewhere a great number, is to reach 80% engagement—4 out of 5 of us.
If and when we do that, there’s absolutely no doubt that Island School will be the better for it—by a lot. Look for the invites to start soon, and when you volunteer, bring a friend who might otherwise be staying on the sidelines. I encounter folks here constantly who live the “if it’s to be, it’s up to me” credo. This is the totally right next step as the year begins, and color me grateful that some conveners stepped forward to lead. Time to build this up piece by piece.
Still learning every day,
ps- and special thanks to the kind folks who reached out to confirm that they are reading these weekly messages—turns out it actually happens.