J.R. Neiswender | November 16 | Cougar Chronicle

Dear Upper School Families,

In the spirit of full disclosure, I must share with you something that may not be a tremendously popular opinion: I have always been a big fan of Thanksgiving.  Maybe it’s because my birthday always falls at that time of year.  Maybe it’s because I actually enjoy eating turkey.  I don’t know what it is, but I always find myself oddly disappointed when I walk into a store at the beginning of November and watch the bags of Halloween candy getting immediately replaced on the shelves by candy canes and Christmas wrapping paper.  I think to myself, ‘Hey - are we forgetting something here, folks?’

But as we begin our final week of school prior to a well-earned week of Thanksgiving break, my thoughts also turn to aspects of the Thanksgiving season that are a bit more meaningful than simple food choices and winter decorations.  While I certainly try to be mindful of things for which I am thankful throughout the year, this season always provides a good time to focus those thoughts for a brief window of time.

I am, first and foremost, thankful for my family and the support I receive from them to do what I do.  I have a tremendous team on my side, and knowing they are behind me allows me the opportunity to put forth my very best effort each day for our TNS students and faculty.  

This TNS community is something for which I am tremendously thankful, as well.  I have worked in a variety of schools in a variety of locations throughout my 28-year career, but joining The New School community this year has been something special.  Our students, our teachers, our support staff, our administrators, and our Board of Trustees enter each day with an eye toward being the best they can be, and all members of our community benefit from this energy and enthusiasm for the common good.  Unfortunately, not all schools work this way - but it is tremendously refreshing to be part of one that does.  

The efforts put forth by all members of our community to allow us to remain open during this craziest of school years deserves some community-wide thanks as well.  The learning that takes place on our campus and the resilience that is demonstrated by our faculty and our students each day to persevere with academic progress and to create community bonds despite significant restrictions is truly admirable.  I know this hasn’t been the fall semester anyone had planned, but I am so grateful that members of The New School community are willing to do what it takes to allow us to be together, learning and engaging with one another to the best of our collective abilities each and every day.

I hope each of you has a long list of things for which you can be thankful this season, and I hope you have the opportunity to share some of that gratitude with the people you care most about, either in person by zoom or by phone.  Let’s have a terrific week of school, and please remain safe, diligent, and healthy over the Thanksgiving break.  

With Cougar Pride and Gratitude,

J.R. Neiswender

Head of Upper School    

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