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1110 College NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

First Day of School


First Day of School

Elizabeth Topliffe

Welcome Back

It is the first full day of school at Stepping Stones.  I've seen the posts on Facebook with the pictures of beautiful children with backpacks, and I've posted my own.

But, even as I write this, I feel as though I’ve just cheapened the experience of every child here by naming this the first day of school. 

It reminds me of one of my favorite books from my daughter’s pre-school years, a beautiful book called Not a Box, by Antoinette Portis.  If you are not familiar with it, I recommend it!  

Just as the box seen through the eyes of the rabbit is more than just a box, Stepping Stones, as experienced by children and parents alike, is more than just a school.

First and foremost, we are a community of people, including all of the adult parents, guides and administrators.  There is no “them” or “they” here.  There is only “we”.

We are focused on creating an environment that fuels the light of intelligence within each child.  You know that light.  You’ve seen it.

The look when your child completes a difficult task by himself for the first time.  The focus on a child’s face when she is concentrating on a new task.  The look of awe and wonder when a child first approaches a natural phenomenon. 

That’s it.  That’s the light.

The world needs more of that light.

The world does not need more adults who wait for permission.  The world certainly does not require more adults who wait until no one is looking.  We need people who know right and do right, with courage and confidence.

We don’t need people who always get the right answer.  We need adults who will bravely experience hundreds of wrong answers in the name of exploration and curiosity.

The world does not lack for people who have memorized their multiplication tables.  We do sorely lack for adults who understand multiplication and see the gift and the beauty within mathematics.

We don’t need adults who can relate only to people their own age.  Great work appeals to all ages.

The work of transforming the world belongs to those who both understand how vast the world is and how powerful they are within it.

And let’s face it.  Our world might be much more interesting if we trained fewer children to look to the front of the room for an adult to impart knowledge and trained more adults to intently observe children as they discover knowledge.

A good “school” requires seat belts.  It will stretch you.  Challenge you as a parent.  And it will help your child astound you in unpredictable ways.

Buckle up.  It’s Not a Box.

This is not a school.

This is a partnership.

This is an environment of trust and respect.

This is lifelong learning.