Starting a New School: All the Feels and Belonging

Starting a New School: All the Feels and Belonging
Dr. Renée Greenfield, Head of School Blog


Welcome (back) to Carroll!

As we launch the school year, it brings all the feels. And all the feels are welcome - from our students, their families, and all the committed adults that work at Carroll.

As I met with new families last week, I named some of the different feelings and emotions that may accompany joining the Carroll School community. Some families feel:

  • a sense of hope as they look forward to a fresh start for their child/ren.
  • relief after working so hard to identify the right school for their child/ren.
  • nervous and wonder: Is this school going to take care of and understand my child/ren?
  • a sense of loss after leaving their previous school community, or acknowledging that Carroll wasn’t the school they thought they would need to send their child/ren.
  • grateful that a school like Carroll exists for their children, unlike when they were younger.

Whether you are a returning family or a new family, you and your child/ren are likely experiencing some or all of these feelings. And, these feelings may change and shift over time. All the feels are welcome at Carroll.

After all, we are a school community built on difference. We believe that great minds think differently.

We also believe in cultivating belonging.

In our first week back, our educators planned activities with students intended to build belonging - with their teachers and tutors, with one another, with grade-level teams, and homerooms.

Simultaneously, our school leaders and educators spent dedicated time with new families to support their transition to Carroll and bridge belonging to their new school community. There were opportunities for returning and new families to meet one another, share stories, and build belonging with one another.

The planning that went into these first weeks of school shows Carroll’s commitment to leveraging difference to cultivate belonging. Carroll’s educators are constantly making thoughtful and intentional decisions when working with students, and always working to Give Each Child (GEC) what they most need to thrive. These first weeks were no different.

As I traveled in and out of spaces on all three of our campuses this past week, I could feel the connection, joy, and belonging. I thought maybe it was just me – and then on Friday I walked across the middle school campus and had three quick, confirming conversations with new members of our community.

New student: It’s like everyone “gets me” here.

New parent: After only two days at Carroll, I feel like I have my child back.

New educator: I really feel like I belong here. I am so glad I am working here. 

As we continue to cultivate belonging at Carroll, know that all the feels are welcome.

Welcome back, and Happy New Year!



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