The Power of The Light We Carry: Reflections on Echo Horizon’s compassionate community

Posted by Yvette Ferrari on 2/24/2023 8:00:00 AM

HOS human library HOS Human Library 2  

What a week it’s been! Valentine’s Day, 100th day of school, and a visit from our CAIS accreditation committee, the team assesses how Echo Horizon is doing and makes recommendations for future improvements.

Throughout the busy week, I have been amazed at the joy and enthusiasm that I have seen, felt, and experienced.  I have noticed the joyful spirit that our students bring with them to school each day. Our students had a blast decorating cards for one another for Valentines Day to share their love of their friends and teachers. Our 5th and 6th graders on the Student Advisory Board were interviewed by the accreditation committee and they shared all the things they love and admire about Echo Horizon. The committee was truly blown away by their brilliance and kindness. Our parents brought their love to campus through the handmade bouquets they made for the faculty and staff, with flowers delivered by so many parents through the carpool line.  Oh, and not to mention the coffee cart we found in the faculty lounge. Our teachers were amazing as they managed the excitement of the day while planning amazing 100th day/Valentines' Day activities and celebrations for their students, demonstrating their sincere love of each and every child in their charge. I even had the opportunity to visit 3rd grader Lucerne Cohen in the hospital to deliver a handmade card and basket made by her thoughtful friends and teachers, thinking that my role was to bring Lucerne joy. And yet, from the moment I arrived, I saw how Lucerne’s presence, courage, and optimism was brightening the lives of the nurses and doctors who cared for her. Lucerne, the patient, was sharing her unique and beautiful light with others, with her family, and with me! Never has a hospital visit been so joyful!  


The beauty and pride that this week has given me made me reflect on the new book by Michelle Obama titled The Light We Carry, a gift I received so generously from an Echo parent.  Michelle Obama is someone that I have always admired for her tremendous kindness, leadership, and grace, for her commitment to the health and wellbeing of children, and for her courage as the mom, bringing up two girls in a divided America. I am channeling my inner Michelle Obama right now as I manage the “intricacies” of the parenting a ninth grade daughter.   


The first quotation that moved me from her book was this one.  “I believe that each of us carries a bit of inner brightness, something entirely unique and individual, a flame that’s worth protecting.  When we are able to recognize our own light, we become empowered to use it. When we learn to foster what’s unique in the people around us, we become better able to build compassionate communities and make meaningful change.”  Each and every one of our Echo Horizon students possesses this “inner brightness” and we are blessed to be in their presence. It is our role as educators and parents, as our children proceed along this complex and bumpy journey of finding themselves, to help them to identify and protect their inner brightness, and to never lose sight of who they are as their most authentic selves. Our teachers are masters at empowering our students to use their inner brightness for good - to be a good friend, a careful listener, a kind sibling, a thoughtful participant, and a respectful citizen. Just last week, our sixth graders participated in the Purpose Learning Human Library, where they interviewed professionals who are leading purposeful lives to gleen advice from them. In the debrief, these professionals - doctors, poets, psychologists, professors, architects, and special education advocates - spoke eloquently about the wisdom and thoughtfulness of our Echo Horizon scholars, children who had just barely turned 12! The brightness of our 6th graders inspired the adults around them and gave them the gift of feeling optimism and hope for the future. Our students truly exemplify the Flourish Traits we hold dear at Echo Horizon - empathy, optimism, gratitude, interconnectedness, and kindness.


And, as Mrs. Obama says, honoring and nurturing the inner brightness that each individual brings leads to a compassionate community.  Never before in my 30+ years of education have I been in a more compassionate community. Echo Horizon is truly one of a kind in the way it cares for, loves, and supports each and every community member, our neighborhood, and our world.  Our 5th and 6th graders take their roles as buddies quite seriously, serving as role models and sincere friends for our youngest scholars who are just getting to know themselves and the community.  Our parent association works hard to welcome and get to know every new family to ensure that they find ways to get involved and to feel a sense of belonging at Echo Horizon.  


In the complex world in which we live, at times we can feel helpless to solve the big problems that exist.  At times we feel like nothing that we can do will truly help.  But that is so far from the truth.  The small and individual acts of kindness and compassion that a person makes can truly change the world.  As Michelle Obama continues: “One light feeds another. One engaged community can ignite those around it.  This is the power of the light we carry.” Our Echo Horizon community abounds with love and light. Our actions can feed others, can inspire others, can ignite action and change in those around us.  It is our obligation and duty to seek, to bring out, to nurture and to protect the brilliant light that is Echo Horizon, believing that its impact is endless.