I listened to my heart his summer as I was reflecting upon the best word to hold before the Kent School community for the upcoming academic year. As a serious French student in high school and college, the words of a French proverb resonated with me. La gratitude est la mémoire du coeur – Gratitude is the memory of the heart. Many of you know that I am an avid Twitter-er. Each morning and each night Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of the musical Hamilton, writes a short rap for his numerous Twitter followers. On July 16, I started my day with the following, it touched my heart, and in that moment I knew what my word would be.
Double down on listening.
Double down on humility.
Double down on what’s enough.
Double down on gratitude.”
I have chosen GRATEFUL as my word for this academic year. GRATEFUL inspires me for many reasons. Defined as thankful, or feeling or showing appreciation for kindness, I believe that true gratitude is the springboard to both character and success.
There are many benefits to having a GRATEFUL heart. Recent studies have shown that gratitude is linked to reduced anxiety and depression, improved sleep, higher life satisfaction, and better overall health. Gratitude also helps rewire the brain. Research in mind, brain and education science shows that the emotion of gratefulness provides a positive and supportive attitude towards others and a feeling of relief from stressors. For all of us, practicing gratitude promotes feelings of self worth and compassion for others, and makes us happier.
For students and educators at Kent School, we will share those things for which we are grateful in a daily gratitude journal, which everyone received as a gift on Tuesday. I am looking forward to writing my daily entry. There is always something for which we can, and should, be GRATEFUL. Whether it is the sunrise on your school campus, the joyful laughter of students, the dedication of teachers and administrators, the quiet time during OTTER – Our Time To Enjoy Reading, or simply the happiness you feel at work, being GRATEFUL makes us appreciate all of the little things that comprise a purposeful life.
I am GRATEFUL for my family each and every day. Last weekend, my final summer hurrah, was also Jim’s birthday. Kelsy came from Nashville (with Steven and their dog, Otis) and Jenna from Baltimore to share in a birthday crab feast with Jim’s sisters, their spouses, and friends. It was chaotic, loud, crowded, and so much fun! I am GRATEFUL for each dish I loaded into the dishwasher, knowing a favorite meal was enjoyed. I am GRATEFUL for each wine glass I washed by hand, thinking about the conversations that happened while holding those glasses. I am GRATEFUL for each sunset we shared on the dock and tried to capture in photographs. I am GRATEFUL for each towel I washed on Monday after the house fell silent. And, I am so GRATEFUL to begin my fourth year as Head of Kent School.
Memories of the heart are the best.
Nancy Mugele is the Head of School at Kent School in Chestertown, a member of the Board of the Association of Independent Maryland and DC Schools, a member of the Board of Horizons of Kent and Queen Anne’s, a member of the Board of Chesapeake Charities, and a member of the Education Committee of Sultana Education Foundation.