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Head's Corner, April 30, 2013
Greetings CMS Families!
I hope that you had a terrific weekend! The weather was gorgeous and many of you took advantage of the Family Fun Day sponsored by the Wellness Committee on Saturday. Nurse Liz and the committee, which includes parents Deb Race, John Shriver, Orly Shacham, Stella Bae, Holly Chueh, Leigh O’Sullivan, and staff members, Tara Dugas, Gretchen Felopulos, Eliza Klureza, and Rowan Van Ness, have been planning the event for some time and their efforts paid off for everyone! We are thankful for any opportunity to connect with each other beyond the classroom. In fact, building community was the single most requested goal for CMS during our Strategic Planning Process. It is one of the five areas of focus (Program/Students, Faculty/Staff, Finances and Facilities are the other four) in our long range planning.
Everyone wants to feel that they are a part of something greater. We have placed tremendous value on community. A common definition of community is a group of people with diverse characteristics who are linked by social ties, share common perspectives, and engage in joint action based on their location or setting. According to social activist Cesar Chavez, “We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community. Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.”
I think that quote was just for me. We are in the process of making all sorts of decisions that has created some buzz within the community. Everything we do internally is an attempt to do what is in the best interest of our community, even if it means change. We absolutely recognize that in order for a community to be whole and healthy, every decision and action must be based on the love that we have for each other and for our community. This time of year is wonderful! The flowers are blooming, the sun is shining and we are finally able to come out of hibernation! It is a great time of transition for students and adults.
However, it is also a time of preparation and loss. We are preparing students for the next phase in their academic and social lives. Most students will return and some will leave. The same happens with adults. Regardless of the reason - promotion, graduation or relocation - it is hard and affects the community. After experiencing this for the past 20 years, I am afraid to say it hasn’t gotten any easier. The common denominator has been love. CMS is a community that truly cares for and loves one another. I would like to share an email that I received from Anna Shine, parent of two CMS students, one in the Toddler/Primary Program and one in the Elementary Building. I read this email whenever I need to reflect on the kind of community we are. Anna sent this to me a few weeks ago and I have treasured it ever since!
On Thursday evening, as we left our house for the CMS spring concert, I was feeling a bit grumpy (a sentiment that an overloaded life can periodically cause). I had timed the drive to CMS perfectly so that Alexandre would arrive in the Rose Room exactly at the required time of 6:20. The drive, however, did little to help my mood, and in fact, exacerbated it; 5:00 rush-hour traffic lazily extended itself well past 6:00, and encouraged my mood to likewise extend itself into downward spiral.
As the minutes ticked by, it became more and more obvious that we would never be on time. Finally, at 6:25, I screeched into the CMS parking lot, gave Alexandre a "run for it" shout, and scanned the parking lot for a space. Not surprisingly, there was not a spot in sight - unless one counted a number of inviting spaces over the two-foot snow bank at the far end of the lot.
I drive the sort of car that enthusiastically stars in TV commercials climbing a 15:1 ice-covered gradient, its headlights smiling brightly from the joy that such a climb brings to both the car, itself, and to its owner. Thanks to the power of my amazing snow-wall climbing machine (and my adrenaline effected judgment), I realized that I would actually have a parking space, and be just on time after all.
I gripped the steering wheel, started to floor the accelerator and knew that in just a few moments, I would be over the beckoning snow bank and perfectly parked. Luckily - or perhaps unluckily as it turns out - the CMS "Parking Lot Grace and Courtesy Rules" suddenly crossed my mind, and thus with wisdom on par with that of the Pre-K child in my back seat, I headed for the snow bank - at about 5 mph - and there until the end of the concert, tires suspended off the ground, the car remained.
Post-concert, I hoisted myself into the hovering TV star, started the engine, and put the gears into drive. Other than wildly spinning tires, absolutely no movement could be detected. I moved the gears into reverse, and then into drive again, and then into reverse again, and into drive again....still not even an inch of movement. Little by little, I turned and watched all the normal CMS families load into their cars, reverse out of their space, and drive off to their comfortable evenings at home. I felt pathetic.
A few poor souls were unlucky enough to have parked near me - and several of them - despite being able to see the rest of their (normal) clan drive off, insisted on staying to help me. I immediately (mostly out of embarrassment) tried to stop them saying that I could call a tow company, but without exception, they all stayed shoveling and pushing, shoveling and pulling, donating salt, kindness, humor, and support - and weight on the back tailgate.
Thirty minutes later, the parking lot was empty save these kind folk, our various children joyfully running around in the dark snow banks as if the Christmas holidays had come unexpectedly early this year, and a local resident and his 2-foot tall Pit Bull who had come to help. Fully inebriated, the newest member of our car rescue team did his best to take control and shouted orders to all of us. One CMS father was charged with Pit Bull care, while others were told how to shovel, push, or pull. Ever aware of the sweet pet nearby, we all did as we were told. I received direction to start the car to see if we could get it to move (for the 55th time). I was about to turn the ignition on when this carnivora decided - like so many dogs seem to - that I smelled too delicious to pass up - and the full 70 pounds of him jumped onto my lap, tongue and saliva both hanging down onto my face. I froze and immediately threw my arms up into the internationally recognized hostage surrender position. He understood and moved over to the passenger side so that instead of offering me a French kiss, he now offered me a close-up rub with his less hygenic parts.
"Please call your pet off", I wimpered... “Come here now, Charlie", came the firm reply. I thought he meant me - not that I have ever been called Charlie, and I immediately got out of the car and begged the homeless man to allow me to call a tow company. At 9:30, one finally arrived.
There is a wonderful children’s book, “A Circle of Friends” by Giora Carmi, which in a simple, yet lovely way, demonstrates the benefits of behaving with kindness, warmth, and love. The truth is that our lives become more rewarding, more interesting actually, if we can always act with kindness, sympathy and with tolerance for others, and if we can always remember, “there but for the grace of God, go I”. There was a CMS team that night (and one inebriated soul), all of whom acted with kindness, sympathy, and tolerance. I don't know all of them to be able to thank them personally. Thus, I would like to thank CMS in recognition of their kindness and to someone unknown that night. It was the CMS community which reached out to a friend, and for that I am grateful. – Anna Shine
Communities like families have their “stuff”, some good, some not so good but most importantly, they have love for each other and that is what makes families and our CMS community so special. I hope that you have an amazing week!