Inside SFS

Headspace: Building Our SFS Neighborhood

It is hard for me to believe, but this past summer marked 20 years since I first moved to the Bay Area. I remember it like it was yesterday. After a two-week drive across country with my sister, I landed in my first apartment at 7th and Lawton (right across from the Pumpkin Patch). I left behind my entire family, many friends and a small town just outside of Pittsburgh, PA called Sewickley. I was born and raised in that town, and I attended the same small school, pk-12. This school was where I ultimately got my first teaching job for the first five years of my career. Simply put, it was a big deal to leave. A little after a year into my SF adventure, I met my now wife. Three kids and a dog later, I now call San Francisco home - although anybody who knows me well, knows that I still bleed the black and gold colors of my hometown’s sports teams!

I share this story because I know that many individuals in our SFS community probably have a similar tale to tell. So many of us ventured west in search of something new. It is actually one of my favorite questions to ask during our admissions tours - “How many of you are actually from the Bay Area”?  It never fails, out of a group of 25-30 people, only about 1-2 will raise their hands as true Bay Area lifers.

What this means for those of us who are transplants, is that the San Francisco School has become our extended family. I actually like to compare our school to the small neighborhood that I left behind back east. Our school is a place where one family gives another the key to their home, so they can feed their pet if they are away. Or, if somebody is sick or in need of additional support, our school community will make sure that meals are delivered or carpools are arranged. Knowing that The SFS community is why so many of us chose this school, and with that in mind, we must always strive to make it as welcoming and inclusive as possible.

Inclusivity is a word that many toss around, and can agree is a great principle, but actually making a community more inclusive is difficult and complex. This year we started taking further steps by creating the SFS Family Event Guidelines. It is with the spirit of growing our SFS “neighborhood” that our school’s Diversity Committee and Administration crafted these guidelines. We strive to be a community that celebrates diversity and encourages the participation of all of our members. These guidelines ask each of us to consider how family structure, socioeconomic backgrounds, race, ethnicity, religion, gender, physical abilities, and age affect families’ participation in family events both big and small. For example, might we move toward a structure where no outside-of-school class events came with a price tag? Or, instead of having mom/dad only nights, might we consider parent/guardian nights? With efforts like these, I believe we would more effectively invite our broader SFS community to get involved, and, in turn, be richer for it!

On December 6 from 4:30-6:00 pm, the school will offer a training with Diversity Consultant Alison Park, of Blink Consulting, a firm that we have partnered with for many years, to focus on helping our community live these guidelines. I encourage you to join us, and I thank you in advance for your efforts to make SFS the best neighborhood in town!

Posted November 14, 2017