The antidote to exhaustion

Dr. Jandel Allen-Smith

Our final SPEAK event of the year was an intriguing departure from the usual topics of our SPEAK presentations. Dr. Jandel Allen-Smith, President & CEO of Craig Hospital, spoke to CA parents about the important role that creativity plays in our lives—not just in our kids’ lives, but in our own grown-up, no-nonsense, real-world lives. One thing the pandemic has been teaching her, as she has led her organization through it, is that nurturing creativity is critical for problem solving and leadership. Why? “Because we solved all the easy stuff.” Creativity leads to innovation and allows us to awaken and use both sides of our brain. It’s essential for social, emotional, and physical well-being, and contributes to solving complex problems. Dr. Allen-Smith also shared a quote from poet David Whyte, recounting a conversation he had with a wise mentor: “The antidote to exhaustion is not necessarily rest. . . . The antidote to exhaustion is wholeheartedness.”

As we all try to finish this year well (or at least without completely falling to pieces), you have my attention if you’re talking about antidotes to exhaustion. I thought that rest was the only real option we had in fighting exhaustion, but we’ve all taken breaks, only to find that the rest we thought we needed was not enough to recharge us for what lay ahead. The more I consider the option of wholeheartedness, the more I see how that has in fact been helping us get through this year.

The wholeheartedness of our parent volunteers

As the 2020-2021 admission season has come to a close, this is a fitting time to acknowledge our parent volunteers who worked with our incredible Admission team. With the guidance of our Admission Office staff and under the leadership of Parent Ambassador Coordinators Allyson Jacoby, Liz Oertel, and Heidi Wolfe, our parent ambassadors served in every division. They hosted weekly virtual Q&A sessions, welcomed prospective families, and led on-campus “accept tours.” They freely shared their time and knowledge; they also shared their love for our school and community. For accepted families who were considering CA among other options, our wholehearted parent volunteers were a wonderful reflection of the community that sustains our school.

The wholeheartedness of our school leadership

Director of Inclusivity Sarah Wright

Dealing with the global pandemic while trying to keep school going proved to be more than enough for schools to take on this year. Our school leaders, however, showed their wholehearted commitment to our school with their focus on helping us grow in diversity, equity, and inclusivity. From the Board of Trustees, to the faculty, to the curriculum in each of the divisions, to student groups, CA has taken big strides in creating an inclusive learning community. Our Director of Inclusivity Sarah Wright has played a big part in all of this. Recently, she launched the Parent Allyship program for CA parents, which had its first meeting a couple of weeks ago. Whether participants were taking a risk and sharing their experiences, or were listening and learning, we all made an investment in our community that evening. For those of you who attended, thank you for being a part of the conversation. For those of you who would like to be a part of our allyship journey, please join us for our next meeting on the evening of Wednesday, May 12. (Details have been published in CA Today.)

The wholeheartedness of our community

All year, the generosity of our community has been a constant bright spot in the midst of the chaos and stress around us. With the parent community vote completed, the annual PA Gifting Program under Lyndsey Farncombe’s leadership saw our parent community gift back to the school a total of $21,000 for classroom equipment, student furniture, and funding for student social events across all divisions. And each afternoon as we line up to pick up our students, we see the Leach Center for the Performing Arts rise up and take shape, a visible symbol of our community’s generosity and hope. In addition, the CA Fund surpassed its fundraising goal for the year, the Lower School playground dedicated to the memory of beloved Kindergarten teacher Leslie Webster was funded with participation from over 150 families, and CA Cares brought scores of donor families together for an entire year to support those in our community needing assistance due to pandemic-related job loss. And our virtual fundraising concert Lovefest gathered our community to share music and joy while raising money for financial aid.

In her talk, Dr. Jandel Allen-Smith called CA a place that takes diamonds in the rough and polishes them, but gives them the space to be themselves. As our school continues the work of developing students to take their place in our world and make a difference, each of us should heed the invitation not to quit or coast when exhaustion sets in, but to lean in and find the thing that feeds your heart, so that we can each do our own part wholeheartedly.