Dear MW Parents and Guardians,
It is early December, and we are officially in the midst of the holiday season. This is always a busy time of year and it can be stressful at times. A couple of weeks ago, I read an article in a professional publication entitled Tapping Into the Power of Gratitude. It talks about how developing the habit of gratitude in school can help students deal with the challenges they face in the classroom, in school and in life. The article goes on to discuss how schools are in a unique position to model what gratitude is for their students and encourage its practice. The article made me realize how grateful I was for the opportunity to be the principal of Merton Williams and work with such a fine group of teachers and staff, so I shared it with them last week before Thanksgiving in the hopes it would resonate with them the way it did with me.
Two things from the article have stayed with me this past week. Research from the University of California at Berkeley defines gratitude as “affirming that there are good things in the world- gifts and benefits that we’ve received- and recognizing that these sources of goodness come from”. Research from Cal State-Fullerton finds that students who learn to practice gratitude “increase their sense of hope and trust in others and fuels a desire to give back to their community”. The benefits of gratitude this research cites made me think about how gratitude is practiced at Merton Williams. After thinking about it, I realized that gratitude is central to our school mission. Being responsive to the developmental needs of our students is consistent with the philosophy of the International Baccalaureate’s Middle Years Programme. The practice of gratitude forms the basis for caring about, and being active in the community which is a key component of the Middle Years Programme. Focusing on the developmental needs of the middle school student is also part of the Essential Elements: Schools to Watch program that has guided our school for the past decade.
I believe that fostering an atmosphere where gratitude is practiced daily by our students is important. Every adult in a child’s life is a potential role model including parents, family members, teachers and staff members. I have asked the MW staff to think about what makes them grateful about their students this month and take the opportunity to express it in some small way. I encourage you to do the same for your children. Another benefit of practicing gratitude is it makes you feel great which may help you manage the stress of the holidays!
I would like to express my gratitude to you as parents for supporting our school and partnering with us to educate your child. Have a joyous Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Sincerely, Tim Dobbertin, Principal
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