Esteemed Elders' Day Welcome
Remarks by John DeMarchi, Head of School
Welcome to Esteemed Elders’ Day!
The benefits of being an Esteemed Elder starts with the job description:
Your first responsibility—maybe your only responsibility—is to enjoy spending time with your grandchild. You exist to share all the joys of learning, growing and discovering the world. And (this is a big deal) at the end of the day, you can still come and go as you please.
When I think of my grandparents, I think of them as a fan club who cheered me on in ways that my parents couldn’t. Maybe it was because they didn’t have to put up with me 24 hours a day.
The other major benefit of being an Esteemed Elder is that you have permission to brag about your child– nearly non-stop. That’s the purpose of our program today. To give you even more to brag about. In a classroom later this morning, you get to participate in classwork with your child. You will get to see how competent, how knowledgeable and how talented your child is. With maps and reading and math and art and more. And you will get to see how our kind of individualized, personalized, self-paced program makes school a place that is affirming, positive and confidence building for every single child.
By being here, you give someone else a chance to brag too. Your small friend. You will see how excited he is to show you what he can do. It’s the delight on her face. You’ll be asked many times…Watch me! Watch me! That pride tells us how powerful the learning experience has been for him.
Finally, I come to one more person with bragging rights. Me. Esteemed Elders’ Day is my chance to brag about three things. First, I can brag that we have a school filled with wonderful grandchildren like yours. How awesome it that? Second, as you will see today, I can brag that we have the most fabulous teachers around DC. They are here for one reason. They are passionate about children, their growth and their learning. They are committed to knowing each child, personally and giving to each just the right experiences each day.
And third, I can brag that we have a philosophy at this school that is so unique in the US today. That is, at Evergreen, the needs of children come first. We know that children naturally want to learn, to discover, to use their hands, build, create, explore, and figure things out. When a classroom is organized with these principles in mind, children thrive. You’ll see it here today.
And you see how children thrive by the success of our graduates, too. Just this month, our third graders have made their plans for next year. Our students, Harry, Maddie, Alexander, Anais, Avery and Lydia have been accepted at many of the most selective and highly regarded independent schools in the DC region. Among hundreds of applicants to these schools, our students stood out for their academic preparation, personal character, intellectual curiosity and maturity. These are awesome kids.
I’ll close with a few words about the butterfly and cocoon metaphor that has been resonating with me for the last few months. Honestly, the scarier the world looks outside—talking about politics, elections, Belgium– the more certain I am that our children need the kind of small, intimate and loving cocoon we have all the way through third grade at least. Children need a place like this until their wings are full formed. There is profound security, physical and emotional, that comes in small classrooms like ours.
Yes, I know, technically, moths come from cocoons. Butterflies emerge from chrysalises. But Evergreen really feels like a cocoon. Welcome to our cocoon today. Its snug, but you all will fit. And it’s a place I won’t stop bragging about. And you don’t stop bragging about your grandchild either!
Have a great day!