As my role as Director of Admission requires that I spend the majority of my time with families who are interested in joining our community, some may wonder how I keep my finger on the pulse of life at Pike. Classroom visits and conversations with teachers and parents certainly provide a window into the countless benefits of a Pike education, and serving as a co-advisor to FWD (an Upper School affinity group) allows me the chance to engage with students once a week, but I also have a unique opportunity to spend time with current Pike students every afternoon.
This opportunity is called dismissal duty, and I must confess, at first I was not too thrilled about this specific job requirement. Why? Because I am always cold.
The running joke in the Pike administrative office wing is about my never-ending quest for warmth. My space heater runs nearly every day of the year, even in the summer! Why? Because I am always cold. Even though I have lived in four time zones, two countries and 11 zip codes since leaving my hometown of Marietta, Georgia, it is clear that I still have Southern blood. So, you can imagine my distress when, upon joining the Pike School Administrative Team, I learned that I had to stand outside every afternoon during dismissal duty. Be it glorious sunshine or blistering wind, pelting rain or slushy snow, this Southern Belle must stand on the sidewalk every day to help little ones into their cars after school!
Even though my colleagues find it hysterical that I consider 68 degrees chilly, they have shared several tricks of the trade with me to, well, weather the weather. I have often opened my office door in the morning to find a “warm” gift on my desk: a pair of SmartWool socks, a pumpkin latte, a package of hand-warmers, even a pair of snow pants!
In the winter, 15 minutes before dismissal, I undergo a “costume change.” I slip off my heels and don my wool socks, snow pants, and snow boots. I pull a balaclava over my head, wrap a scarf around my neck, and stuff my hands into gloves AND mittens. And then, I head outside and wait for the youngest members of our community to confirm that each day at Pike is truly a thrilling adventure.
Positive energy fuels our campus, and that energy is palpable even at the end of a long day of learning and growing and playing. Every afternoon, Lower School students bound out of their classrooms brimming with excitement about all they learned that day. As I call children to their cars, they share with me what they know about Japan, polar bears, immigration, or baking bread. They climb into their cars balancing elaborate art sculptures made of egg crates and paper towel cores or clinging to their Surprise Boxes like Olympic medals. They serenade me with a new song they learned in music class or squeal with glee over an acorn they discovered on the ground. Their sheer delight over what they know and what they can do bubbles over like their colorful, sometimes zipped, backpacks.
I am grateful for this daily gift to experience Pike through the eyes of our students. Their enthusiasm is contagious, and even on the coldest of days, when I stand outside with them and listen to their stories, though completely freezing, I am also filled with warmth.