Traffic was really a nightmare on Washtenaw today, clogged from 94 all the way up to Whole Foods. I was sitting in my car realizing that I was going to be late, hating the traffic and cursing myself for having chosen this route instead of Packard when, out of the corner of my eye I saw a van pull up next to me.
I looked over and whose fantastic smile and wave did I see but Pare Gerou's, in her own car and heading to the same spot I was...and stuck in the same traffic! Now, I drive a car that many, many people drive and I, for one, never know what kind of cars other people drive. Kids, yes, cars, no. But when she edged forward in her lane, I caught sight of her S-K magnet on the back of her car. "That's it!" I thought, "I bet she recognized me from the magnet!"
Sure enough when we caught up with each other at school and I asked her how she knew it was me, Pare said that she'd seen the S-K sign that I was sporting with pride on the back of my otherwise typical car.
I have been reading a lot lately about "tribes", communities who share a sense of connection through commonalities, ideas, purpose and the like, and I am really drawn to the idea of identity, community and support. Seeing Pare today brightened my dreary drive not only because of her friendly wave and cheerful smile, but also because it was someone familiar to me in a sea of unknown faces. I love that about our school. We are a tribe, we are a group of people drawn together because of our desire to educate our children in an open, thoughtful and compelling way. Our size as a school means that we are tight-knit. When something happy or sad happens to one of our tribe, we all feel it in some form or fashion. It's a true community, a family in many ways, a touchstone and a sense of belonging that is important to children and adults alike.
Wow, all of this from a magnet sighting on the back of a car? Yes. That experience really gave me pause and made me think of how happy I am to know you, each of you. I am happy to be able to wave at you on the road and have my kids smile when they see your S-K sticker in an unusual place (like at my daughter's daycare or in a parking lot downtown--two sightings in one week!).
So, please consider showing your tribe identity and make a space for that magnet on the back of your car (and, wash off the metal first, they stick better!). We have so much to be proud of at this school. We are passionate, creative, curious and thoughtful people who have made choices and sacrifices for our children (and, by default, ourselves) to be part of this special community. We have fantastic faculty and amazing staff and caring supporters and alumni who are all part of the S-K tribe. And our children are learning every day to create their own sense of community by recognizing diversity and similarity, of tribe by understanding and supporting what they have and tending it. I am glad I am here, thank you for being here too.
See you this weekend at Curious Epicures. And ask the wonderful Susan Carpenter about how she uses tribes in her classroom. Amazing stuff, worth exploring!