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Together 5.19.23

May 19, 2023 | Nancy Van Epps

by Head of School, Abby Hall Choi

Increasing Collaborative Communication within the MSS Community

At our recent Parent Association (PA) introductory meeting, Parent and Alum Monica McEnrue spoke eloquently about the beautiful community that is Mustard Seed and the PA’s objective to “knit the fabric back together” after the COVID disruption. This intention seems to be shared across the spectrum of Mustard Seed families. 

Because we are a rich and diverse community, that call to action finds expression in a myriad of formal and informal ways from contributing pizza for the family gathering preceding the Sixth Grade Social Justice Exhibition to convening for months to establish the foundational thinking for the emergent PA. All of these efforts are valuable and cumulatively, they will rebuild the vibrancy of our community.

I would like to acknowledge a recent project envisioned and implemented by families. Kindergarten parents planned five days of celebration in the classroom for Teacher Appreciation Week capped by a snack/brunch buffet for the whole faculty. Utilizing her impressive skills as a project manager, Parent Karla Jimenez conceived and led the effort. She employed extensive use of WhatsApp along with a color-coordinated Excel spreadsheet that allowed parents to participate at many levels in a personalized manner that was meaningful to them. Karla has generously conveyed a willingness to share her successful process with parents in other grades. We have such a caring, fun, and talented parent body!

The parents made us feel so appreciated during Teacher Appreciation Week! It meant so much to see that our efforts and relationships with their children were recognized and valued by them. Their thoughts, gifts, and especially their words of gratitude gave us that extra boost of morale during these last few weeks. They made cards based on our answers to a survey of our favorite things. I was touched that they took the time to personalize it and truly show gratitude for me, the person, in addition to me, the teacher.”—Ms. O’Dowd

In my nearly two decades associated with MSS as a classroom teacher, program director, parent, and head of school, I have often felt that an increase in the network of parental participation could be an area of positive growth for Mustard Seed. The work of the PA, the Grassroots Marketing Committee, and the individual contributors to the community is both exciting and heartwarming! I was so pleased to see parents of older students at the PA’s initial meeting. I know that the group will soon be unveiling their plans for many opportunities for families to connect.

During launch, as the PA morphs and changes, I can imagine the major impact of an “invested and caring family community surrounding student learning and well-being.” One of the PA’s stated intended outcomes is “inclusive parent engagement so that we can ensure availability to all.” I strongly encourage each of you to consider taking advantage of these collaborative opportunities to connect or find other ways to network and support our vibrant, diverse Mustard Seed community. 

Nancy Van Epps

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