A Sense of Belonging

Posted by Diane Hale on 7/8/2019

Everyone loves vacation. It is so nice to get away from the daily routine and from regular responsibilities, but tell me I'm not alone in that I LOVE coming home. That feeling when you walk in the door after having been away from home feels comfortable, safe, and... well, cozy. Home is where you can be yourself. Home is where you relax. Home is where you feel you truly belong

Something magical happened to me this year. After my vacation out of town, I had that great feeling of coming home as I entered my house. I had the rest of the weekend to rest and enjoy being home. Today was back to work. I came to school ready to start a new school year and as I walked in the front door... I had that feeling! I felt like I was home. Having that sense of belonging outside of home, and especially where you work, is a wonderful feeling.  

I got to thinking that this feeling like you're home is really a strong sense of belonging. It actually doesn't have a whole lot to do with where you are, as much as how you are treated when you are there. I spent a lot of time with friends and family over the summer. No matter where we were, whose house we visited, it felt like home. The people I was with were "my people" and they accept me for who I am and the sense of belonging was strong.

The truth is, you can also have that feeling of belonging even when you are among strangers. At a unique local restaurant during vacation, we were invited to sit at the "chef's counter". It was a counter facing into the kitchen of the restaurant. The chef and cooks talked to us about what they were preparing and asked us where we were headed after lunch. They joked with us and even dropped a few tastes of what they were cooking on our plates for us to try. They asked us how we liked the food and told us about their favorites. After learning we were from out of town, the server came by with a map of the area and a pen. She pulled up a stool at the chef's counter and showed us some of her favorite places to visit in town. After a three hour-long lunch we left waving good bye to folks who were strangers when we entered, but who now felt like friends. I no longer felt like a tourist. I felt like a local. I felt like I belonged.

This year, I want to make sure every student feels like he or she belongs on July 23rd when school starts and every day after. Whether it is the very first day of a new school in a new state, or if Tarwater has been your family's home school for years, I hope it feels like home. 

If you are a returning Tarwater teacher, staff member, or family help us make everyone feel as if they belong. It doesn't take a lot. Let's all commit to doing just a few of these things so everyone belongs all school year long.

  • Smile and greet people - even those you don't know yet
  • Introduce yourself to someone new
  • Be friendly (even in the parking lot at drop off or pick up!)  
  • Include others in your conversation, in your activities, in your thoughts
  • Be you

If you are new to our school as a new staff member, parent, or student we hope you feel like you belong right from the start. I hope it feels like home in a short time. Commit to doing a few of these things to help cultivate that sense of belonging. 

  • Smile and greet people - even those you don't know yet
  • Introduce yourself! There are many families here, I sure appreciate your help by helping me get to know you. 
  • Get involved - sign up to volunteer, or just come to coffee with the principal and other PTO functions 
  • Be friendly
  • Be you

As always, I look forward to this year with great anticipation for a wonderful school year. I am so grateful to call this place home. I hope you feel at home here too. 

be here. be you. belong