A message from Shelby Hammer, Head of School
You may know that I have both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history. My particular interests include the Reformation and Early Modern Europe; the New Nation of the United States; and World War II. These three eras may appear to have little in common, but they share the themes of humanity’s striving for freedom, especially the freedom to worship as they please and the freedom to govern themselves. As a teacher, my goal was to help students discover these themes. If students could understand the hard-fought freedoms that came from these periods of struggle, then perhaps our struggles could come to an end.
In the wake of the tragedy like the shooting in Pittsburgh over the weekend, children have the ability to ask the hard questions without being political. Questions like “Why do people go into schools/churches/synagogues/mosques and kill other people?” Perhaps the hardest question of all is when they look at the adults in their lives and ask, “Am I safe?”
While education and knowledge are powerful antidotes to the lack of understanding in our world, I believe the most effective antidote is love. As an educator, I have to ask myself if we are teaching our children to love. God commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves in the Old Testament, and Jesus cites that as the second greatest commandment after loving God.
At the beginning of this school year, I challenged our faculty, staff, and students to love one another. Love is central to our school community – being kind; accepting people’s differences in appearance and beliefs; and learning to disagree with others’ opinions while recognizing their right to hold that opinion. Love is based on respect, one of Trinity’s core values. As stated in our handbook, “We who are Trinity School come from diverse social, economic, family, religious, and ethnic backgrounds. Each of us contributes to the quality of the school, and we learn from each other as we are challenged by differing opinions, ideas, beliefs, and presuppositions.” Lessons in grammar, math, science, and history are important. Lessons in love, though, are crucial.
In light of this weekend’s events, I challenge us again to love one another. For the adults, I urge us to be mindful of the unkind remark, the inappropriate gesture, or the comment that reveals ignorance or misunderstanding. When these things happen, we cannot let them slide, not because we are eager to punish, but because we are eager to teach. We must model what it means to be kind, and we must teach children to be kind when they stray from that path.
A recurring theme in my meetings with school employees and parents is how much we value the family feeling at Trinity. That feeling does not just happen, but rather it is the result of each of us making the conscious decision to love one another. In the face of tragedy, let us redouble those efforts so that the Trinity community maintains its nurturing environment and so that our children can leave Trinity and spread that love wherever they land.