Parents help make Keystone an outstanding school
“No school can work well for children if parents and teachers do not act in partnership on behalf of the children’s best interests.”
-Dorothy H Cohen
Over the past few weeks, I have had the pleasure of sitting in as parents share their experiences with the 4th Grade Leadership class. I’m filling in for Lower School Head Ms. Matthews while she’s out on parental leave. She arranged an all-star lineup of parents representing a variety of fields, and the parents’ presentations were delightful. Whether they were explaining what makes certain companies successful, how to create and build a business, how to create a life of service to others, or how a cow’s heart works (with actual hands on experience), the parent presentations have inspired the students, the teachers, and me. (I also want to thank fourth-grade teachers Ms. Holden and Ms. Holliday for being lifesavers in a variety of ways.)
Watching these guest experts reminded me of the vital role that parents play in supporting the Keystone community. Committed and hard-working parents share their time by working with the school’s Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) in a variety of activities: assembling treats for faculty/staff on an In-Service Day, feeding students during exams, volunteering at school events, or offering administration guidance on a new initiative or a hot topic. These PTO members provide an invaluable bridge between the parent body and the rest of the community.
Other parents support Keystone in less formal avenues. Some roll up their sleeves and help particular programs like theater by bringing dinner for the cast and crew during play rehearsal – and then attending the shows and applauding in their appreciation for the students’ efforts.
In addition, parents show up for student events like music concerts, the Spring Arts Festival, Science Fair, the junior class Stonecatcher Fair, and many other academic and extracurricular rites of passage.
Sometimes the same parents, or others, will cheer loudly at sporting events in the Lower, Middle, and Upper Schools. The addition of interscholastic competition in the Lower School has enabled youngsters and families to become involved in athletics starting in 2nd grade and continuing all the way through senior year. The sense of community while standing on the sidelines or sitting in the stands at volleyball, soccer, basketball, or softball games, tennis matches, or track meets feels joyful and palpable. The school spirit at basketball games this year seemed as loud and exuberant as any time I can remember in the past few years.
For security reasons, our campus may not be as open as in the past, but we continue to create opportunities for parents to be on either campus. The response has been overwhelming. Whether it’s attending holiday parties or parades at the Little School or Lower School, parents come to celebrate, wave at their children, and be in company with one another. Lower School picnics, one of the good things to emerge from the pandemic, allow students and parents to take a break out of their day and enjoy a meal together. The look on a child’s face when they see their parents waiting for them (perhaps with Whataburger in hand) is truly something to behold. Behind the scenes, our parents encourage their children to study, finish class assignments, and try their best in the classroom.
When envisioning the recipe for student success, a common metaphor focuses on a three-legged stool of students, parents and the school itself. Without one, the structure collapses. When all three are present, the conditions exist for children and young adults to take risks, try new things, and go out on a limb. They know that the adults in their lives want the best for them and will be there for them whether they succeed or falter.
There’s an old saying that “90% of life is just showing up.” Keystone parents are present in innumerable ways. Consequently, our school is strong and our students achieve at an extraordinary level. People often ask what is Keystone’s “secret sauce.” While there may be many elements, like outstanding children/young adults combined with exceptional teachers and staff members, the recipe also includes supportive parents. We are a better school for our parents, and on behalf of the entire community, we say thank you!