This past week Jim, Jenna, Kelsy and I spent our winter break in Florida, soaking up the sun and warmth. We ate several incredible meals, drank some fruity concoctions, and mostly, just relaxed. The most fun we had, however, was on an airboat touring the Everglades. I somehow missed on the website that the excursion was also an Everglades history experience, complete with a bus and a very special tour guide, but that is another story.
Most of our airboat trip was in the salt marsh ecosystem of Immokalee, FL in Everglades National Park. (This makes three national parks this year including Yellowstone and Cape Cod National Seashore!) Our boat captain took us under and through an amazing mangrove forest. Mangroves are a group of trees and shrubs that live in brackish coastal intertidal areas and grow in low-oxygen soil, where slow-moving waters allow fine sediments to accumulate. (NOAA)
As temperatures warm and the sea rises, thickets of mangroves are forced landward out of their current habitats. Mangroves are sometimes called “walking trees” because their continuously growing long and spindly dry roots make them look like they are walking on water. (National Wildlife Federation)
I had never seen anything quite like this before and was obsessed by the appearance of neglect amid the artistic way the roots wove a beautiful pattern as they walked just above the water. Where one mangrove tree grew, it appeared that there were many tree’s roots holding it up. The metaphor was not lost on me. In a family, and also in a school, it is the job of every member to support and hold each other up, to walk beside each other and not let anyone fall. One for all and all for one, the unofficial motto of Switzerland, and a phrase made famous by the novel The Three Musketeers, is personified in the mangrove forest.
It is with clear 20-20 vision that I walk into the new year and the new decade bound and determined to foster in my children, and the children in our care at Kent School, the notion that one for all and all for one is the best path forward in life and in education. To build a family or a learning community, we need to always think of others. Nature has found a way to walk together, I hope that humans can find the same path as we move forward into the next decade.
I am not suggesting that we put others ahead of our own personal growth. It is important to strive for excellence individually to become the best person we can be. I am suggesting, however, that empathetic citizens will lead the world in the future as we all awaken to the realization that our shared humanity is the most important unifying factor we must cultivate. Our differences in perspective help us look at issues and solve problems in unique ways, yet ultimately we all have the same goal, to lead a life of purpose and to make the world a better place.
I am proud of the passionate and thoughtful adult children Jim and I have raised, and I look forward to hearing how Kent School alumni are changing their communities in the years to come.
Happy New Year!