The life of a school is always under transformation. We grow with the lives and personalities that flow through our school. We learn from each other, and gain from our conversations and shared accomplishments. The life of this school is constantly rooting and flowering - moments of deep and unseen growth, and moments of public and recognizable achievement. 


This past summer, I was witness to a miracle. My 4 year-old son learned to identify milkweed; he meticulously searched for the yellow and white striped prize of a monarch caterpillar.  Together we watched the caterpillar munch the leaf and create its chrysalis.

Inside that chrysalis, the caterpillar wasn't just reforming a physical structure. The caterpillar completely dissolved and reformed from a cellular memory. And, near the end of the process, the opaque and mysterious chrysalis became a clear window holding a bundle of orange and black wings.  We would peek at our jar and see a miracle - a completely reformed creature ready to fly, built from the persistent chomping of that striped caterpillar. 
As we send our students into their classroom environment this autumn, they bring to life the being of the school. Our adolescents experience an awakening on each key experience as they enter a time of adventure and new horizons. Our elementary students bring life back to the reformed classroom environment, and just as the butterfly pushes the fluid of life into its wings to fly, our students bring life to the Montessori materials, articulating within and manipulating the classroom materials as the room comes alive.


As we enter our 11th autumn as a school, I reflect upon the chrysalis that we form each summer to review and take stock of our work and to clean between the cells that make up the entity of our school. In our chrysalis in the summer, our school is placed in a state of seemingly lifeless stillness. Rooms are silent and empty. Sounds echo through the hallways. Our chrysalis pulls us inward each summer as a school, and allows us to develop and refine our beautiful potential. We have transformed in some new ways this autumn: improvements to our facilities and thoughtful adjustments to the way we administer school functions. Our board is hard at work supporting strategic initiatives and committees which further our teaching practice and our practical plans for the future. 




Welcoming the life, the students and faculty, of the school back represents the moment of our transformation. Our butterfly moment is when the faces that will make up the life of the school return and all both new and returning recognize each other as part of the same being - as part of Great River School.  It is this moment forging our experience together that we feel what it means to value community, character, and intellect. 

Our mission is to create an environment that supports the whole person - and in witnessing the school enter its chrysalis and re-emerge this past summer, I am consistently amazed at the beauty emerging from the stillness. Our whole person exists both individually through each heart that walks through the door, and also in our whole school - where we have established a culture of trust and perseverance that carries from year to year, persisting through the many transformations we undergo. 

Here's to a wonderful reawakening of our being as a school this fall - welcome back!
~Sam
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AuthorSam O'Brien