Dear WSMF Families,

I hope you are enjoying the warmth and beauty of these early weeks of spring. This month I felt called to shift my plans for our SEL theme and was inspired by personal events, to offer the theme of  Inner Knowing for the month of April. Things happen in our lives each day. Events that bring us joy, and situations that cause us worry. In order to manage our feelings and interactions with others during these occurrences, and all those in between, we must trust ourselves to know what it is that we need to move forward. What it is that we need to heal. What it is that we need to support each other. 

I’d like to share a story with you…

When I was an undergraduate student at Emerson College, Bob Colby, Performing Arts Chair, was also my Theatre for Young Audiences teacher. In Bob’s TYA class, my urge to never “dumb down” theatre for children was reinforced, my desire to meet the needs of all different types of children was honored and supported, my desire to challenge the status quo was cheered, and my mistakes were named and collaborated on to get better each time. I remember one class in particular- something unrelated to TYA came up and Bob said something that has stuck with me: “You can never control how others treat you. What you can control is how you respond.” Some 12 years later I still repeat this phrase to myself every day. It was a HUGE a-ha moment for me. I believe it is the moment that set me on the path to the SEL and wellness impulses I am so passionate about integrating into all my work today. 

Bob also directed me in a production of The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes at The Cutler Majestic Theatre while I was at Emerson, which is just so fitting for what he stood for. Speaking up when someone is mistreated, and being brave in the face of adversity. These are both lessons I hope to teach each student I am lucky enough to work with.

On Monday, April 5, Bob Colby passed away after losing his battle with pancreatic cancer.

My Inner Knowing has guided me to engage in a project that honors the gifts Bob Colby left to us all through his passion, joy, and love for young people. Throughout this month I will be working with groups of students to create our own hundred dresses for Mr. Colby to thank him for how special he has been to me and to so many others. I openly invite anyone who wishes to join me in this project to do so- create a dress of your choice while listening to Eleanor Estes’ story read aloud on our page, and send me a picture of your completed project.  I will share pictures of our work with Bob’s family to bring them comfort in this time, so that they too can know just how loved he truly was, and will be for generations.

Branigan Reed
First Grade Class Teacher, SEL Specialist