The MBS Parents Association held its first General Meeting of the 2021-22 academic year on Thursday night, October 21 in Founders Hall with an option for parents to join via live stream. Before the meeting, parents gathered for a reception on the lawn of Alumni House.
Parents Association President Linda Magnotta began the meeting by introducing this year’s PA Board and the Class Parents.
New Head of School Liz Morrison reflected on the first six weeks of the school year and said that she has been meeting with groups of students to understand MBS through their lens. “One of the things that I found while interacting with our students is how balanced they are. They value greatly the number of different activities they are involved in; they didn’t seem overly stressed about it or anxious; and having been at a number of different schools, that’s not necessarily a given for school-age children,” she said.
She said that she has been frequently asked about change at Morristown Beard School. “One of the things that’s important is that an institution preserves the essence of an institution,” she said. “ It is natural that as time goes on, you look carefully at your programs to make sure that they’re relevant, to make sure that they’re preparing students for the world that they will occupy. We often talk about how we’re preparing them for jobs that haven’t even been created yet…. Yes, we will change, but we will hopefully always have the grounding force of the soul of the institution.”
Mrs. Morrison said that the School is continuing to explore ways to have more in-person events on campus and to get students back into the Dining Hall.
She emphasized the value of struggle and said that MBS is a safe place for them to learn this important lesson. “These struggles that our students go through, many of those are equipping them to face life and all of the things that show up later,” she said. “This is actually the time when there is an incredible safety net for them in terms of people dedicated to reminding them that they have the strength to navigate the struggle. Rather than solve it for them or make it go away, our job is to let them know that they actually have those tools in them to navigate through it.”
Mrs. Morrison also spoke about the School’s dress code and asked parents to please reinforce it with their children. “If you have an expectation in a community, then you have an obligation to honor what’s being asked of you,” she said. “It’s really important to me that we do what we say and we say what we do. To pick and choose one thing that we’re just not going to do without any conversation or without any philosophical underpinning doesn’t feel right to me.”
She closed her remarks by thanking the community for such a warm welcome this fall. “It feels so familiar here it’s almost eerie,” she said. “Being in a school environment that is warm and nurturing as well as pushing kids to be their best selves just fits with exactly what my values are in an educational setting.”
Betsy Patterson, Director of Advancement, spoke about the work of the Advancement Office and noted that the team handles a range of responsibilities including communications, special events, parent relations, and alumni relations as well as fundraising. She emphasized the importance of The MB Fund – the School’s annual fund – and mentioned that parent giving last year reached an incredible 80 percent. She said that parent giving percentage is important because it helps the School secure grants from foundations. “It’s not about the dollar amount; it’s about participation,” she said. “What’s important is to be part of it.”
Linda Magnotta closed the meeting by highlighting a number of upcoming events, including:
· The Snack Shack will be open on October 26, 29, and November 2 and 3.
· Men’s Night Out on Thursday, November 4 at 7 p.m.
· Zip Code Night socials on Friday, November 5 at 7 p.m.
· Pumpkin decorating contest during the week of November 8
· The PA Fiction Book Club on November 8 at 7 p.m.
· Shopping & A Show on November 12 and 13 at 6:30 p.m.
· PA Hiking Club on November 14 at 9 a.m.