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Matt Allio

A Year of Compassion and Learning

A Year of Compassion and Learning

 

About one year ago, in March of 2021, I wrote a reflective piece titled A Year of Grace and Learning.  That piece, written in our 59th year as a school, spoke to the grace we received from our school community and the learning that had occurred over the past year.  You may remember those early days of Covid, the shelter in place and curfews, lack of testing, no vaccines, the actual distance between people we were required to practice, and a world of uncertainty and fear. It was challenging, and we were tested in many ways.  Still, the outpouring of grace we received from the community, as we found comfort and support from within and from each other, enabled the faculty and staff to focus on teaching and learning.  We leaned inward, dug deep, understood what resources we could utilize, and found shelter and security with each other.

 

It’s pretty remarkable the difference another year makes.  Last year, I spoke about grace and learning.  This year, 2021 – 2022, at Trinity, the reflection has evolved to A Year of Compassion and Learning.  Let me explain.

 

Before trying to explain, and I must say, it’s not as if our world has reset back on its axis when it comes to Covid.  There has been a year of unspeakable loss for people in our community and beyond.  Families have lost loved ones to the virus.  Like last year, I use the word “unspeakable” intentionally.  Some of the losses we know about, some we don’t.  Families have grieved within the community, others in the closeness of their homes and the comfort of their family.  Nevertheless, this school year has been different.

 

If I stand back and look at the arc of this current year, Trinity’s 60th year as a school, it’s undeniable the difference in how we marched outward, albeit carefully and cautiously, while better informed on the virus’s path.  We took the grace from 2020-2021 and, perhaps unconsciously, turned it toward compassion during 2021-2022.  We took and lived the section of our Episcopal Identity statement that says Trinity School is a community of learners immersed in social responsibility, a sense of connectedness to something greater than ourselves, and an understanding of how we might contribute to the good of the world through the way we live.

 

We saw that social responsibility and sense of connectedness to something more significant than ourselves each week during this year of compassion, of turning outward.  Some examples of note:

 

  • Grade 5 students, while being read the story Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes aloud, and folding origami paper cranes with the overarching wish for peace in the world.  Thus far, they have folded 1039 cranes.

 

  • Grade 3 to 5 students learned about the context of the war in Ukraine and sent video messages of peace and hope to a school in Ukraine.

 

  • For Big Help Week, all our students donated nearly 1,000 books to help restock the library in a Books for Greenville initiative. This town was ravaged by wildfires, including the loss of the city library.

 

  • In the Fall, our Upper Campus students, during the Afghan refugee crisis, participated in a Chapel series on refugees worldwide and led a school-wide initiative that collected over 100 items of clothing, bedding, and small appliances plus over 500 toys and books for Afghan refugee families.

 

  • During the Winter, our Lower Campus students and families participated in an initiative collecting coats for Samaritan House.  Samaritan House is an organization in San Mateo for families in transition, and its mission is to preserve dignity, promote self-sufficiency and provide hope with compassion.

 

  • This Spring, our students and their families partnered with Operation: Care and Comfort to put together care kits for troops worldwide serving in conflict regions, humanitarian missions, and when they return home.

 

  • Throughout the year, and it seemed almost bi-weekly, there were food drives on both campuses that helped stock the shelves of the Ecumenical Hunger Program in East Palo Alto.

 

  • We continued our partnership with Achungo Children’s Center in rural southwest Kenya, where we send all of our previously and gently used iPads and laptops after they’ve been cleaned, repairs made, and new operating systems installed.  Achungo Children’s Center takes in orphans and destitute children in rural Kenya.  The Center provides food, clothing, medical care, and schooling for more than 600 students ages 3 to 16.

 

These are only some of the examples of the compassion the Trinity students and families have shown.  There are so many, it’s part of our school ethos, and it is embedded in the minds of our students.  It is important to note that this all begins when the children are in their earliest years at Trinity and in the classrooms.  For example, how simple and grounded this arc of compassion can be:

 

  • In our Lower Campus classrooms, in their small circles of two to five-year-olds, they emphasize the tangible acts of kindness to build understanding and connection.  They ask students: What does it mean to be kind?  What are ways we can show someone we care? How do our words help others feel better?

 

And that’s what it is all about – starting here at Trinity and in your homes with compassion for the people around you, internalizing it within ourselves, radiating it outward, and leading others.

 

Thank you, everyone, for a year of compassion and learning.

 

Matt Allio

Head of School

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