We probably wouldn’t have noticed,but it was so obvious. After a few years away, our daughter’s confidence is back and its re-emergence coincided distinctly with Rachel entering The Upper School at Cambridge in 7th grade.
Rachel went all the way through an awarding-winning school district. Although successful academically, we witnessed our delightfully witty and chatty daughter gradually become more reserved and soft-spoken in her later elementary years. We’d put it down to the increasingly larger class size and/or, at her age, becoming more cautious and self-conscious of what others might think. She had certainly talked about friends being teased or bullied and knew of cliques around school, with the “popular” kids being mean to the “unpopular” kids. Rachel’s reserved nature was noticed by her teachers too who encouraged her to speak up more in class and voice the ideas they knew she had. In fact, her 5th and 6th grade teachers remarked to us that Rachel had a certain “inner strength” and “quiet confidence” about her, and one of the teachers recounted a situation when Rachel came alongside a classmate who had been teased and ostracized, to make her feel significant and loved. We had no idea. Our eyes welled with tears as the teacher looked on. With the pressure of “social norms”, we were so proud of the compassion and strength it must have taken to do this for her classmate.[quote align=”center” color=”#999999″]In fact, that car ride home after her first full day was memorable in that she talked nonstop about what she had learned in each class; yes, each and every class![/quote]
In contrast to her previous school experience, from the first day, Rachel noticed a difference at Cambridge. For example, how well the older students treated the younger students, and the fun and passion her teachers conveyed in their teaching. In fact, that car ride home after her first full day was memorable in that she talked nonstop about what she had learned in each class; yes, each and every class! Along with this, Rachel now carries herself and speaks with noticeably greater confidence at home than in recent years and apparently also at school too; Rachel prepared and presented a class speech and chose to include humor to good effect, which speaks to her comfort level already established in the class.
Rachel is excited about school, which is great in itself, but what that means to us extends so much beyond what we had prayed and hoped for. She no longer senses an external or internal pressure to be someone that she’s not (well maybe a little, she is a tween after all) and instead can focus on a Christ-centered learning environment that is consistent with who she is and who she is becoming. We are thankful to God for the community of staff, students and families at this school and for the warm welcome we have received.