20161118-GrandsDay-358

Isn’t it Grand to be a Grand? A Grandparent’s Perspective on Mackintosh

File_000The following is the text of remarks delivered by one of our Mack Littleton grandparents, Shelly Carlile, at our Grand Event last November. We thought that Shelly summed up so eloquently what our school is all about and we wanted to share her thoughtful message with a larger audience.

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Our grandson Jaxson is 11 and a half, and our granddaughter Brooklyn is 7 and half.

We are known by them and others as Doc and Queenie.  My husband is fond of saying that our names sound like we are we are a couple of old draft horses who pull a cart downtown –“Come on Doc! Come on Queenie!” — but we have embraced our grandparent names, and needless to say we wear them proudly.

Well, on this special day and in front of all of you, I think I can comfortably say: Isn’t it grand to be a grand?!

I think so, because as a grand we can somehow see ourselves with a special and unique distinction. It’s different than when you are the parent. As a grand you are able to confidently and unapologetically say (potentially even to a relative stranger), “Oh here, just get comfortable for a moment will you, and let me share not one, but one hundred and one pictures…and oh here, let me regale you with fascinating stories of my extraordinary grandchild.”

When Diane Dunne asked me to share what Mackintosh has meant to me and my family, I thought about how I felt the first time I pulled into the driveway off of what used to be an old country road.  I was instantly drawn to the Littleton campus of Mackintosh Academy. I loved it because it is so graceful and unassuming, without imposing arrogance or pretense.  It gives the impression of a quiet respite from the rest of the world.  It seems that the intention is to convey the message “Come on in. You are welcome, and cared for, and accepted here.”

As it turns out this beautiful space happens to also set the stage beautifully as an ideal environment for the children here to learn and grow strong.   A place where they are safe, and free to experiment and express themselves, and yet still have a great balance of clear guidelines that keep them going in an always positive direction.

The teachers and faculty here at Mack have impacted our lives in many ways with their smiling faces in the car line for pick up and drop off, and staying in close communication with the family with observations about the kids and updates and feedback. Sometimes it may be just quick email to share something that the kids did that was particularly sweet, or funny, or thoughtful, or smart. Other times it might be a phone call if something arises that requires a little special attention. The staff always seems to know how to expertly navigate even delicate topics.

20161118-GrandsDay-358An interesting phenomenon that I have noticed, is that every year we have been at this a “little school with the big heart,” we have said among ourselves “Wow! We are so lucky this year, because Jaxson and Brooklyn are in just the right spot with their particular teacher.”    But you know, after many years we have come to learn that it’s not luck at all. It is by brilliant design, the product of tireless hours, and a principled commitment to bring the very best teachers and programming to the school for the betterment of the students and their familiesThe teachers here are so in tune with the students, seeming to expertly know how to reach out and help them find each of their unique and special gifts, even if they happen to be hidden deep down inside.  Encouraging, them by enthusiastically communicating, “Hey you fabulous kid! What do you want to do?  Where do you want to go? Because you know what?… I’m here to help you do that and go there!”  Here, there is no ceiling, glass or otherwise, that can keep you down – the sky is the limit!  They don’t stop there. They expand that message with, “Hey guys, we are not just going to learn from books and computers. We are going to sing, and act, and run, and jump, and play outside, and learn how to be good sports, and team members, and citizens, respectful listeners (even when we disagree), and empathetic, and good communicators, and how to be a good friend.”

In the end what I have learned is that this little school with its big heart, and all that it embodies, does not happen without the love, care and support of those who reap its benefits.   As with all things that are worthwhile, it calls for participation and sometimes sacrifice from all of us as a community, to cheerfully give of our time and talents and treasure.    In big ways and in small ways, each one doing his or her own part, that’s when the magic happens – when we look for ways to serve.  For us, in our family, the small investment that we have made here, has been returned to us many times over just their smiling faces at the end of the school day. We are grateful every day for the privilege of being a part of this awesome school and family.

Isn’t it grand to be a grand?