A co-educational private school for Preschool–Grade Eight

Top Lessons Turned into Top Resolutions for 2022

Just a little over a week ago, on New Year’s Eve, I watched the ball drop in Times Square from the comfort of my couch with my two daughters, who are eight and ten years old. The girls were determined to stay up until midnight and had their eyes glued to the television. Like most families with children, 2021 proved to be as challenging as the year before—perhaps even more so. But as my family talked about what we learned from the year and what our New Year’s Resolutions might be, we were reminded of the continued lessons the pandemic has taught us. 

My most significant and most rewarding challenge of 2021 was becoming Division Director of the Upper School. Like most new experiences, there were many lessons to learn. I thought I’d share with you my top three lessons from 2021 and the resolutions they inspired me to make for the new year ahead.

Lesson One: Old traditions reinvented out of necessity can bring new energy to a community. 

Several times in the past year, we have had to reimagine Far Hills traditions to keep everyone safe. For example, we had to reimagine the Grade 8 Expo last spring. Unable to gather in the Cafe, students took their presentations to Zoom, creating beautiful digital portfolios of their work. Grandparents, friends, and experts from all over were able to join these presentations, asking questions and engaging in dialogue. We recorded the presentations and shared them with parents who could send them to family members and friends who couldn’t attend the live presentations virtually. The result? A Far Hills right of passage reimagined and shared with an even larger audience. 

Resolution: Don’t abandon or give up on a tradition. Take the time to reinvent it.

 

Lesson Two: Kids do well with free time when given space.

Whether it was the cohorts last year or the assigned lunch tables this year, students have had to spend more time with less movement. Often, these groups have not been their first choice of peers. What has become apparent is that the students have become adept at making new friends, playing games, and engaging in conversation with each other. We have seen a rise in students playing card games and board games, making up new games with elaborate rules, and being more comfortable spending a quiet moment with themselves. They have adapted in remarkable ways.  

Resolution: Remember to give kids the space to navigate free time on their terms.

 

Lesson Three: You might be surprised how high you rise when challenged.

Every year, when the students take to the Ropes Course with Coach Sansone and his belay team, he always reminds them that it is a “challenge by choice.” I am always amazed by how much the students choose to challenge themselves. And what is more impressive is how much they achieve. They quickly learn that the more they challenge themselves, the more they accomplish. If someone had told me two years ago that I would be adept at video conferencing, teaching virtually, and planning asynchronous lessons, I would not have believed it. But like everyone at Far Hills who has lived through these last two school years, I have chosen to challenge myself and my students, and we have learned together.  

Resolution: Challenge myself to continue to learn new skills.

My wish for the Far Hills community this New Year is to continue to rise to the challenges presented to us and reinvent ourselves while holding onto what we value most.

Happy New Year!

 

 

Emily Seelaus

Director of Upper School