End of the Year Letter 2012-2013
Dear MSM Parents and Faculty:
We have come to the end of what has proven to be an extraordinary school year indeed. As I look back over a decade of writing my year-end letter, never has there been a year quite like this one.
My mother has always said that if you do something you love, then you will never work a day in your life. Well mom, you had me right up until October 29th, 2012. The days which followed Hurricane Sandy certainly felt like hard work, but in the words of Cleave, scars do not form on the dying, scars just prove that we survived. Thanks to strength, resilience, and the kindness of strangers, survive is exactly what we did. We made it through the storm and went on to have what I consider to be the most successful year since our inception for two very special reasons:
On October 19th, we received the news that everyone in the MSM community had been waiting to hear since 2009. A bone marrow donor had finally been found for our former student, Kai Anderson. Many of you remember and volunteered at our Hope for Kai Bone Marrow Drives and helped to register literally thousands of people as potential bone marrow donors in the hopes of finding one for Kai, who was then just four years old. In the fall of 2012, Kai’s donor was found at almost the very last possible moment. Despite all odds, his doctors were able to get his cancer into remission and Kai’s transplant was conducted successfully on November 7th. Though none of us ever expected how drastically our lives were going to change between October 19th and November 7th, Kai’s story not only put everything quickly into perspective, it gave us the wind in our sails that we were going to need to get through the challenges of the months to come. It made the boxes a little easier to pack, the furniture a little easier to move, and reminded parents and staff alike of the true definition of hope. The months eventually did pass and on March 3rd we received the news that Kai had reached his 100 day post-transplant milestone. Though Kai will still have a long road ahead of him, his story will forever be an aide memoir, for each of us, of just what can be accomplished in the face of even the most impossible of circumstances.
The further measure of success this year is the incredible accomplishment by our parents and staff in our work with our sister school in the Batey Lecheria. As many of you know, last spring we began to work with the faculty and children of SHCJ, which thrives in one of the most impoverished areas of the Dominican Republic. When we first began discussions with their school Head, the now infamous Sister Mary Alice, her greatest desire was to provide her teachers with proper Montessori education. Her request prompted our first of many faculty outreach trips, where our own MSM teachers travelled to the D.R. to work with theirs. These trips yielded the second phase of our project, which came to fruition just 3 short weeks ago.
Heading into the Batey for the first time, we knew that most of the children would not have had anything to eat other than the cereal, bread and milk that the school was able to provide. We knew that for most of the children, the only clothing they would own was their one school uniform, and for many of the teachers at S.H.C.J., an entire month's salary is what we normally spend on a coffee at Starbucks. However, when we actually arrived in the village, the poverty around us was astounding. Throughout the week, our staff saw dozens of toddler-aged children who would gather in the streets outside the school literally clinging to the gates and wanting to be allowed in. Lacking the critical funding and space, SHCJ was not able to accept two year old children into their program, so these children were left to run the streets of the village, half-dressed and hungry. We immediately began discussions with Mary Alice regarding what it would take to start a Toddler program at SHCJ. This spring, the D.R. Committee began our second fund raising campaign with the goal of constructing two classrooms for the toddler children in the Batey. I am very pleased to report that just this week, thanks to your generous donations, we have broken ground and construction has begun. By September the toddler classrooms are expected to be ready to open, taking more than 60 two-year-old children off the streets of the village and providing them with food, medicine and a Montessori education.
Neither these, nor any of our other remarkable accomplishments over the past ten years could ever have been realized without the amazing people who make up the MSM community. Our schools are widely known as having the most dedicated, compassionate, and generous parent body in the downtown community. Whether moving our campus in the wake of a flood, searching for a medical miracle, or building a school for children who don’t have one, MSM parents show up and get the job done without hesitation. Standing right beside them each and every time is my amazing team of teachers and administrators, without whom I could not get out of bed every day and do this job that I love so much. There truly are no words of thanks sufficient enough to acknowledge the tremendous difference that you make to me, to our schools, and to all of the communities you touch. For those who are leaving us this year, thank you for having been a part of MSM. It has been my distinct pleasure to have known each and every one of you and I wish you much success as you move on. For those returning in September, I look forward to beginning our 11th year together.
I have ended my annual letter the same way every year since our inception and even though I have now written these words ten times over, never once have I believed them more than I do today. My job is by far the best gig in town, and to each of you reading this, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for proving me right for an entire decade.
Mrs. Bridie L. Gauthier
Head of Schools