Guildford Grammar School has come alive, with over 1,300 students of which 274 are new to our School. The grounds have once again been filled with the energy and enthusiasm that can only be generated by our youth.
The Boat Shed is a hive of activity every morning, the dance studio above my office provides a foot-tapping beat, the rocks in our Prep School nature play area are deployed into the pond each morning, only to be fished out again and re-entered the next day.
My reflection at the P&F Welcome Sundowner held during our first week back was about belonging. The fact that Guildford Grammar School is more than a school, it is a community and the sense of belonging is palpable. The passion of which staff talk about their roles, the way parents speak of their children’s love for the School, the Old Guildfordian whom I chatted to this week, who meets his OG friends for coffee every Wednesday morning; my family and I have joined a special place.
Yet, above all of this, is the students. This School belongs to the students, our current stewards. As we inducted our 2023 Prefect group in the magnificent Chapel of St Mary and St George, we shared a reflection on leadership; leadership is about connection, connecting with people is the core of who we are. Our society has learnt in the immediate past the impact of a world where connection is lost. Sharing a quote from Thupten Jinpa, a Buddhist Scholar, “It is through connecting with other people, actually making a difference to others and bringing joy into their lives, that we make our own lives matter.”
Whilst many of us already feel that we deeply belong to this community, others are taking their first steps. It is those who we need to ensure are visible and valued. I encourage you to break from your norms, reach out to the new faces and help them feel the feeling of belonging that they will one day pay forward to the next who are new to our community.
It is important to delineate between belonging and ‘fitting in’, put simply by Brene Brown “One of the biggest surprises was learning that fitting in and belonging are not the same thing. In fact, fitting in is one of the greatest barriers to belonging. Fitting in is about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be in order to be accepted. Belonging, on the other hand, doesn’t require us to change who we are; it requires us to be who we are.” In a community that celebrates our diversity, I look forward to welcoming all for who they are and the feeling of belonging that will come at GGS.