Director Richelle Meer on Modeling Values in Our Community

“Your beliefs become your thoughts. Your thoughts become your words. Your words become your actions. Your actions become your habits. Your habits become your values. Your values become your destiny.”— Mahatma Gandhi

Each year, SSDS grows and matures as a reflection of our students, parents, teachers and staff. Teachers and parents create loving classrooms in which children explore, play and grow. Parent and teacher committees produce school events and trainings. Staff manage a myriad of projects that make things work. Building and playground maintenance is improved on community workdays. Educators learn and expand their worlds alongside parents and their students. So much is driven by all of you, making things happen here at SSDS.

For me, the 2014-2015 school year represented a significant milestone in my career as an early childhood educator—my 20th year at SSDS.

Richelle as a teacher in her first SSDS Pre-K

Over the course of the year, people often asked me, “Where do you find inspiration?” “What does SSDS mean to you?” “What motivates you?” In my mind, the only response to these questions is community.

My father, Paul Meredith Bradley, was a Methodist minister. Not the kind of preacher that you see on a Sunday morning at the pulpit, but a minister of education who spent his life involved in the spiritual education of children, youth and adults.

As a child I was a camper in a camp my dad held for under-privileged children. As a youth I worked with my dad to organize a tutoring program for foster kids who needed not only extra academic support but also needed a friend or buddy. My youth group, guided by my father, was always a place where everyone belonged, where barriers of social groups, what school you attended or where you lived, didn’t matter.

Whether he realized it or not, my dad was a true example of fellowship and community.

My dad showed me that developing meaningful connections with people leads to the creation of communities. All people want to belong. We want to be part of something where we can contribute and make things happen. We want to witness firsthand how our contributions make an impact. And, of course, we hope our children will have these same meaningful experiences as they go through life.

Richelle and her Dad

Twenty years ago, when I began my journey at SSDS, I had no idea that building and fostering a community would ultimately be the strength and magic behind our school. Like you, I came here seeking to work with and learn from children. Like a pebble dropped into a pond, children are the epicenter of that stone’s impact on the water, and the ripples, as they move outward, are all the relationships and connections created by our love and desire to give children the best possible start in this world.

As parents and educators, the examples we set matter. I now see how my own beliefs and work here at SSDS have evolved from what I observed as a child. I have come full circle: the ripples continue to expand, as I see each of you, parents and staff, truly present, shaping our community and serving as role models to show our children each and every day the value of belonging, giving, and being a friend.

Richelle visits a Pre-K classroom

As I reflect on my 20 momentous years at SSDS, I am proud of the community we have built together, proud of our legacy and how we are shaping the makers of the future. I look forward to knowing the people our children grow into, and seeing that future they create. Oh, what a future it will be.

—Richelle B. Meer, Executive Director and mom to an SSDS alum, shared this preview of the 2015 SSDS Annual Report, “Creating Community.”

It’s Giving Tuesday

Please donate to support current needs at SSDS! You can designate your gift for a specific purpose:

  • General Needs: Your unrestricted donation supports SSDS programs where the need is greatest.
  • Support a Classroom: Your donation will help keep the classroom(s) of your choice stocked with art supplies, special projects and other materials for that classroom’s learning needs.
  • Playground Maintenance: Your donation will help to keep our nature-based playground in good condition for safe and seasonal activities throughout the year. (Read our recent Spotlight post about why our playground is so important to our students, teachers and families.)
  • Staff Development Fund: Our dedicated teachers are at the heart of our quality programs. Your donation will provide assistance for our teachers as they constatly improve their skills through continuing education, certifications, conferences and other opportunities.
  • Thank you for all the ways you give to our SSDS community!