Note of Thanks to NYYM

by Chad Cianfrani
Head, Oakwood Friends School


To the NYYM Community,


It is with deep gratitude that I thank you for sharing your energy, care, thoughts, and community on the Oakwood campus this week. I have called this space home and ‘office’ for close to two decades. We focus our work at Oakwood on strengthening community, building upon a school mission firmly rooted in Quaker principles, and supporting our students and families through ever-changing and often challenging times.


This week witnessed countless touchpoints, meetings, and spaces for reflection. While I was only able to participate in a fraction of these moments, I thank the NYYM community with a profound sense of gratitude.


On Wednesday this week, amidst a day filled with Oakwood work, meetings, and events, I began my day with Silent Meeting in the Theater with this community. Having to duck out around 11:00 a.m., I left to connect with members of my Board of Managers for a Zoom meeting. During the two minute walk from the Theater to my office in the Main Building I witnessed slip and slide joy on the hill by the Reagan Dorm with young members of your community. Seconds later, turning the corner by Crowley and Stokes buildings, I experienced an uplifting rehearsal and music.


This was my 120 second work commute and it framed my day powerfully!


For me, this week was inspiring, invigorating, and battery recharging. We all have important work ahead of us. Between effects of the global pandemic, societal and racial reckoning throughout our nation, political upheaval, increasing economic and social-emotional stresses on our students and families, these have been some of the most challenging years within our schools and communities.  Reflection, deep listening, willingness to act and speak truth, and an openness to seek out the Light in every member of our society—these are foundational to the work at Oakwood and to the work in all of our Quaker Friends schools.  I saw this work on full display within the NYYM community as well this week. It was inspiring.   


Change is in the air. The opportunities to support one another, strengthen mission, and find sustainable growth are present on so many levels. While challenging, I find these years the most exciting and rewarding of my time at Oakwood. My charge leading out of this week is to reflect deeply on the place and space of Quaker education, our connection to the larger Quaker community, and how to continue to further this important work in support of our students within our school community.


I thank you all. I have so many thoughts and ideas heading into this year and next summer!


I look forward to connecting and to the road ahead. Be well.