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Gratitude for the Sounds, Smells, and Sights of Our Hallways

This morning, I stood around the corner from our second-grade class, smiling while listening to the sounds of the students praying passionately together. An eighth-grade student turned the corner with a gigantic smile, and we agreed to stand together for a few moments and take in delicious sounds. I reminded him of his first-grade siddur celebration, and we reminisced briefly. He went off on his way, and I continued around the corner and down the corridor. I stopped again to listen to a teacher working one-on-one with a middle school student who set a goal to fluently lead the repetition of the Amidah in the weekday minyan. The teacher corrected the student's pronunciation of a particular word, and they proceeded to have a delightful argument about the Hebrew vowel referred to as a shvah nah. On my way back down to the second floor, the elevator smelled intensely of challah baking, and the doors opened to the sounds of preschoolers singing their morning tefillot.

Walking the school halls this morning was an incredibly peaceful and uplifting experience. In addition to the sounds and smells, I was met at every step with visuals of children skipping through the halls, parents and children hugging each other at drop-off, and students giggling together while working. Our beautiful school felt like an island of calm and kindness in a sea of chaos. 

For a moment, I felt burdened by the contrast between what was happening within these classrooms and corridors and what we saw on our streets and newsfeeds. And then I thought… this is a moment to choose gratitude. Everyone wants this for their children, whether down the block or across the world, and so many things outside our control have to go right just to provide our children with a calm, loving, and affirming environment. My colleagues and I are blessed and honored to be in the position to facilitate this magical environment for our students. And we are so grateful to all the parents who entrust us with delightful children to fill our classrooms, hallways, and community.

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