Blog

Patience

1/13/20
Liza Ewen
Acting Head of School

This winter break found my eight-year-old and me sitting at a doctor’s office, waiting for a quick follow-up appointment. “This is so much ‘fun,’” he said, gesturing air quotes as he looked around the waiting room and saw little with which to entertain himself. (Air quotes are an ancillary benefit of second grade these days. Hooray.) “There’s nothing to do,” he said. “Can’t I just have your phone now?”
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Storytelling

1/6/20
Liza Ewen
Acting Head of School

As a career English teacher, I suppose it's inevitable that I see the world through the lens of storytelling. As I used to tell my high school students, even a grocery list tells a story once you know how to read it. Whether it's in our collective DNA or a result of spending too much time watching TV and movies, we've learned to think in terms of narrative. The more familiar the story, the more comfort we find in it. At least, that's the story I tell myself when I'm reading Goodnight Moon to my two-year-old three times in a row each night before bed.
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Learning by Doing

12/16/19
Liza Ewen
Acting Head of School

As a working parent, I'm lucky that my parents are more than happy to indulge my kids (their only grandchildren) with presents each Christmas. Last month, when my parents asked me to weigh in on what my children would like, I dutifully typed different variations on the same theme into Google: "perfect toddler gift," "best toys for three-year-olds," and "what to buy a second kid who inherited more toys than he knows what to do with."
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Kindness

12/9/19
Liza Ewen
Acting Head of School

Kindness, it seems, has made a comeback. If like me, you thought generosity toward others was a timeless virtue, it's still noteworthy that a combination of today's pundits, psychologists, bestselling authors, and think tanks, have decided that human kindness is back in vogue (and Fred Rogers' signature cardigan along with it). Case in point: I recently received a lovely email from Gretchen Dykstra, FSH alum, Class of 1969, sharing an article from this month's issue of The Atlantic-- "Stop Trying to Raise Successful Kids." In the article, Adam Grant (of TedTalk and Wharton fame) and his wife Allison Sweet Grant, assert that while attention to caring about others has diminished, it is one's character, not one's achievement, that defines success. To all of this, I find myself saying, as I often do when trying to explain something my son overhears on NPR from his perch in the backseat, "sadly, not everyone graduates from a Quaker school."
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Sing-alongs

12/2/19
Liza Ewen
Acting Head of School

Near the end of my first year at Friends School Haverford, my father asked me what the most surprising difference was between my many years as a high school English teacher and my new job at a Nursery-8 school. My answer was almost immediate: “I had no clue how much I’d be singing.” The perplexed look on my father’s face stemmed from his intimate knowledge of my generally off-key crooning in the passenger seat the summer we drove from one New England college tour to the next. I come by a lack of vocal talent honestly. My father is all but tone-deaf, though this never stopped us from belting out Don McLean’s “American Pie” in cacophonous glory each time it played on the mixtape (with the windows securely rolled up, of course).
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Grateful for our Unsung Souls

11/18/19
Liza Ewen
Acting Head of School

On the eve of our Thanksgiving break, I find myself deeply grateful for the chance, in the Weekly Update, to tell a piece of the story of what it means to be a part of the Friends School Haverford community. Writing to you each week provides the opportunity to reflect on how we live our mission and how we cultivate the Quaker values that are such an essential part of our identity. While I’d like to take credit for this idea, it came to me from a couple of different sources. At a conference earlier this fall, Crissy Cáceres, the new head of Brooklyn Friends School, encouraged me and other heads of Quaker schools to meditate on the small and large ways we fulfill the ideals of Quaker education. In the early weeks of this school year, two of our PTO leaders, Karen Bleznak and Annie Duggan, asked if I might write something to families at the start of each week. I’m so grateful to Crissy, Karen, and Annie for providing the spark for this weekly reflection, and I appreciate those of you take time each week to read this and join me in reflecting on what we value most about Friends School Haverford.
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Celebration of Learning

11/18/19
Liza Ewen
Acting Head of School

There's nothing like living with an infant or toddler to remind you that learning and excitement about learning are part of everyday life. Each smile, wave, and word is cause for celebration, and that's all well before parents roll out the victory dance reserved for the early successes of potty training. As my children grow up, though, I'm noticing my pure delight about the small things fade in comparison to my anxiety over reading levels and mental math. At some point, I drifted away from celebrating my oldest son's joyful process of growing and becoming his own person and began analyzing the product of his second-grade work as indicative of his future success.
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Peaceful Problem-Solving

11/11/19
Liza Ewen
Acting Head of School

On this Veterans Day, I find myself thinking about both my grandfathers, who fought in WWII, as well as many others I know who have served in the armed forces. I’m thinking, too, about the Quaker peace testimony and the vital work that Quakers have done and continue to do for peace and disarmament. At times, it’s challenging to know how to honor those whose service and sacrifice have made life as we know it possible while maintaining a commitment to nonviolence. The work of holding both of these truths strikes me as the work of Quaker education itself--to help young people wrestle with multiple perspectives and to stand on the side of their principles, all without diminishing another’s experience.
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Integrity

11/4/19
Liza Ewen
Acting Head of School

Later this month, I’m joining a handful of other Green Street Friends Meeting members to participate in the “Morning with a Friend” program. Similar to the program that takes place each January between FSH and Haverford Monthly Meeting, the day connects Quaker school students with practicing Quakers. As a first-time participant, I’ve already begun thinking--and worrying about--the prompt we’ve been asked to speak to: “share about the ways that Integrity shows up in your life.” There’s nothing quite like Integrity with a capital I to make one question if they’re the right person for the task at hand.
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A Window into your Child’s Life at School

10/28/19
Liza Ewen
Acting Head of School

With parent-teacher conferences on the horizon, I’ve been turning a particular memory over in my head. Several years ago, in my son’s second year as a student at a small, community preschool, his teacher began our parent conference by sharing how much she valued my son’s “calming influence” on his classmates and how she appreciated his calm, focused approach to classroom activities. She’d barely gotten these first sentences out before I burst into laughter, delighted to discover someone who loved sarcasm as much as I did. One look at her face, though, and I stopped short. She wasn’t kidding. She was completely serious. While I described my son and his energy as rambunctious, irrepressible, and incorrigible (and I stand by that description four years later), he apparently spent his preschool days modeling tranquility for his fellow four-year-olds. I was confused, and then, honestly, frustrated--why did he not once try to be a calming influence at the dinner table?
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