New Head of the Upper School Patricia Sasser addressed the upper school student body for the first time during a morning assembly on Aug. 20, encouraging students to invest in themselves, their relationships and the community. Sasser arrived to Ransom Everglades from The Loomis Chaffee School in Windsor, Conn., replacing Ken Mills, who accepted the head of school post at the Gifft Hill School in St. John, V.I. At Loomis, Sasser served as dean of the senior class and led the development of the school’s first Diversity & Inclusion Strategic Plan.
Read Head of School Penny Townsend's introduction of Patricia Sasser here
. Here’s the full text of the Aug. 20 address:
Good morning! I’m Ms. Sasser. I hope you all had a good first day of school yesterday. However, I hope today is even better. I find that the second day is often better because you know little more, you won’t repeat yesterday’s mistakes, you have a better handle on what’s going on, and the first day jitters are behind you. I’m not sure if you can relate, but that is how it’s always been for me.
I had a lot of thoughts when it came to what this first address to you should be. To say I was all over the place is an understatement. I’ve been racking my brain for the words of wisdom that were going to inspire you to greatness. I kept asking myself, What kind of tone do I want to set? Should I try to be funny (the answer – a resounding no)? Should I prepare a slideshow? (Nah, perhaps another time.) But I kept running into a wall because, honestly, I think I was just trying too hard to make it perfect. That’s when my 10 year old dropped some knowledge on me as if he could sense the overthinking in action, or he just wanted me to take my brainstorming elsewhere so he could watch TV. He simply told me to “be calm and just talk.” And he was right. So, I turned to a poem I’d read called “The Dash” that really spoke to me and makes me think about how I hope you approach your high school experience. I won’t read the whole thing, but the part that resonates with me is the verse that says:
“For it matters not, how much we own, the cars … the house … the cash. What matters is how we live and love and how we spend our dash.”
So, you may ask, what’s this “dash” she speaks of and how does this have anything to do with you? The dash represents the time between when you start your RE journey and when you conclude that journey at graduation. Your time at RE will fly by as I am sure the seniors can attest to. It was not so long ago that you all were launching your upper school careers and yesterday you had your last first day of high school. So whether you are just starting out or you’re in the homestretch, I encourage you to make the most of the time you spend here by living your dash in three ways:
Invest in yourself. Make decisions each day that support and show the kind of student you want to be. But just as important, if not more important is making decisions each day that supports and shows the kind of person you want to be.
Invest in relationships. My 10 year old also had advice for you: “Say hi; don’t be shy.” Whether you’ve been in school together for one day or for seven years, continue to extend the hand of friendship, have compassion, and show kindness to those around you. Strike up conversations with someone new each day. And when you ask someone how they’re doing, pause long enough to hear the real answer. You never know the impact that choice can have on someone. You will do a great many big and small things, but let one of the greatest things you do be about how you care about each other.
Finally, invest in your community. As we go through the hustle and bustle of a school year, it’s easy to take this place for granted. We have a beautiful campus and live in this great city; we should take daily action to make them both better. It could be as simple as cleaning up after ourselves at lunch, giving our time to a cause we believe in, or speaking out against an injustice. When we embrace Paul Ransom’s mission, we embrace something bigger than ourselves – a rich and beautiful legacy of servant leadership. I hope that as you live your dash with passion and purpose, you will commit to paying this gift forward. For me, these types of investments are the markers of a successful year. Something I wish for each and every one of you.