By Dr. Elinor Scully, Head of School
“Summer is like childhood. It passes too fast. But if you’re lucky, it gives you warm memories from which you take strength in the cold days ahead. Summer is also like childhood, in that you may not think what you are doing matters very much while you are doing it, but later you realize it mattered far more than you knew.” -from The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness by Edward Hallowell
I was blessed early in my educational career to hear Dr. Ned Hallowell speak on the topic of childhood and raising authentically engaged, happy, and healthy young adults. I certainly didn’t know it at the time, but Dr. Hallowell put me on an educational journey as a teacher that ultimately resulted in my coming to lead The Langley School, a place with a mission at the heart of what I believe is most essential in education, and frankly, in life.
The metaphor of summer being like childhood resonates deeply for me. As the summer of 2017 comes to a close and we anticipate an important anniversary here at Langley, I’m struck by how this metaphor has been such a vital part of Langley’s history from its inception. Seventy-five years ago, a forward-thinking group of educators created a school that was focused on the foundational years of preschool and early elementary school. They knew that offering children a rich, play-based curriculum would set the stage for all subsequent learning and offer children the best opportunity to become confident, self-directed scholars who found joy in academic and social life.
They were pioneers at the time and they sought to create a community, not just of students and teachers, but one that involved everyone in the life of the school. The parent body in the early years of Langley’s history volunteered in every corner of the school. The strength and vitality of the school, including the physical campus, were nurtured and sustained by the shared efforts of parents with a common goal and purpose.
Seventy-five years later these core values are still in place. Parents are no longer mulching flower beds, painting buildings, and cutting the grass, but they give of their time and talent to enrich the school community. Further, they invest in our shared calling to raise children who delight in childhood and early adolescence. Our community understands the sacredness of these foundational years and commits to nurturing them in an intentional and deliberate, yet unhurried and respectful, way. The bonds that come from doing this together – parents, faculty, staff, and administration – are unusually strong, and often lifelong.
The summer of 2017 had some childlike qualities for me personally. I spent a vacation with my family on the Outer Banks, during a portion of which we didn’t have electricity. As I cooked by candlelight and read to my nephews with flashlights, hearing only the sounds of cicadas and crickets, I was reminded of some of the simple joys of my own growing up. As we head into a new school year, we must keep some aspects of summer alive. We should keep central the joy and connectedness that comes from investing in our families and communities. If I learned anything new this summer, it’s that the world desperately needs the generation of children we are raising. We need kind, respectful, open-minded, diverse individuals to bring peace and goodwill to our world. Langley has long been committed to these ideals. And for 75 years, this community has been a place where life-changing relationships are born.
So welcome back! I look forward to seeing all of you as we usher in our 75th year. We will keep our summer sense of childhood alive and well on classroom visit day on Tuesday, September 5 with some wonderful memorabilia from Langley’s past. To get us started in the “throwback” spirit, I thought I’d share my kindergarten classroom picture. Let the reminiscing begin!
Dr. Scully, I so enjoyed reading this. I grew up at Langley and essentially remember it as my second home. It was so heart-warming to read about the history of Langley as you recounted it. You captured the warm, friendly energy that parent involvement brought to our learning environment at Langley. I am glad this tradition continues today. I too have been impacted by hearing Ned Hallowell speak. I always think about a statement he made. Connectedness is the antidote to depression. Connecting with others is so important for our health. A school is a wonderful place for all to come together and recognize the importance of connecting with each other. I love Langley, worked at the summer camps and came back to teach preschool for a few years before coming a child and therapist. I am also glad you mentioned the roots in a strong play-based curriculum. Play is such an essential piece to the positive growth and learning of children. It is the language that they are most comfortable using and will more likely produce confident and successful learners!
Mrs. Brown was my kindergarten teacher at “little” Langley! She has been a wonderful role model. She was not only my favorite teacher, she is also my Mom! I did call her “Mrs. Brown” when I was her student and all the other children called her “Mom!”
Thank you so much for sharing your “Little” Langley memories with us, Jennifer. Hope to see you during the 75th Anniversary celebration!