As Hebron’s new Dean of Students (Mr. Babcock) and Dean of Residential Life (Mr. Hensley), we’ve both been reflecting a lot on what it means to be new to a community, as well as the tremendous opportunity that each new school year brings for returning students, and we thought we’d share with you a little of our conversation (below). In doing so, we challenge every individual in our community to engage with new people, ideas, and experiences. Accepting this challenge, we believe, is essential to reaching our highest potentials of mind, body, and spirit!
See you in August! - Mr. Hensley and Mr. Babcock
Mr. B - Are you excited or nervous about the new school year?
Mr. H - Excited! But, honestly, a little of both.
Mr. B - I know, me too! Coming into a new place is always at least a little scary. I like to look for things that I have in common with people and try to start conversations that way. We get to know each other by learning about what we share, but at the same time, those things that are different about our experiences, beliefs, and identities make the community even more special.
Mr. H - Okay, well it can still be nerve-wracking though!
Mr. B - True. So, how do you stay brave and bold when you are coming into a new place and meeting new people?
Mr. H - Our experiences make us who we are, and so much of our experience is defined by the people around us and the way they see us. So, I try to remember that a new community provides an opportunity to wipe the slate clean a little bit and be a new person: hang out with different types of people, try activities I haven’t tried before, or even work on being a better friend to others. New place, new person.
Mr. B - Wait, I’ve seen Mean Girls. Can’t that go too far?
Mr. H - ABSOLUTELY. If you start somewhere new and try to hide something fundamental about yourself, like who you are or what you’re passionate about for fear of not being accepted or just because you want to be accepted by particular people, it’s super difficult to ever feel fully accepted or a part of the community. New Kid by Jerry Craft and Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg also capture this pretty well.
Mr. B - They also show how helpful existing members of the community can be to someone feeling at home at a new school!
Mr. H - Good point! So, what can returning folks do to help you and other new Lumberjacks like us to feel welcome?
Mr. B - I really like it when folks help me to understand their perspective. Sometimes hearing their ‘come from’ (what is their story; where they ‘come from’) helps me better understand them. It's also really helpful to be given grace (some slack) as I learn the ropes of a new place and meet new people. I think it is always better to give as much grace as you wish to be given by others.
Mr. H - On that note, please forgive me for interrupting your thought, but we should probably bring this to a close. Tell me, as the summer wraps up, what are you most excited about?
Mr. B - I am so excited to work with students, faculty, proctors, and the whole of Hebron to build a community where every individual is seen, heard, and valued. We have a special opportunity (and responsibility) to be there for each other. As we start this new year together, I cannot wait to meet everyone… and GET STARTED!
Mr. H - Me too. Couldn’t have said it better myself!