Watch this first.
February is a great time for storytelling and story listening. Whether in California or Vermont, there is an inherent coziness of the month, nestled between the January return and the sight of spring to come. I recently rewatched one of my all-time favorite short films, created by a very talented and dedicated friend of mine from college. I loved this short film from the moment I saw it. Rewatching it now, almost 7 years after its creation, I couldn’t help but feel nostalgia for Vermont winters and the romanticized memories I have of -10 degree walks to the library and lunchroom table talk of near death by icicles. It’s only fitting that when we think of winter and snow and ice we also think of hot chocolate and fires and wool sweaters. It’s true in more places than one: the scared really is scared of things we like. Though I have watched this short film more than a hundred times, there is one line, towards the end (yes, this is my not so subtle way of pushing you to do the twitter impossible and watch the entire 7:52 video), that I kept hearing repeated in my head long after the video had stopped playing: “there are so many fun things to do in winter!”
It’s almost like it came straight out of a Frog and Toad book. It made me instantly want to honor this coziness of February, even here in 70 degree California winters. It made me want to push myself to find the nooks and crannies of days to listen to children, to listen to their stories and the way they make sense of the world and the unintended and very much intended advice they may give. Bianca reminded me being a story creator requires you to first be a story appreciator; that story listening is just as important as storytelling.
As we launch the Scott Center for Social Entrepreneurship at Hillbrook School, there is a huge opportunity to combine the thing we like to do with the kind of people we are and want to be in the world. As an educator, I am proud that the lines between work and life are often blurred. Social impact work at its core strives to connect our values with our learning. To do this work well requires me to ‘let the nervous come out of me’ every day and to remember to keep scaring the “scared’ with the things I love. If there ever was a month to snuggle into the wonderful complexities of being an educator, it’s got to be February. As we know, sooner rather than later spring will be here and the pool will reopen and our souls will seek to roam more independently outside. I spent January planning for June. That was important. But for the 28 wonderful days in February, I want to embrace the fact that there remain “so many fun things to do in winter!”
Annie Makela: Annie Makela is the Founding Director of the Scott Center for Social Entrepreneurship at Hillbrook School. Annie studied social impact at Middlebury and went on to join the team that launched the Center for Social Impact Learning at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. Between those roles, Annie taught 2nd grade at Greenwich Country Day School and worked at the Aspen Institute supporting the Aspen Ideas Festival. Annie believes that educators work lies at the intersection of helping students be the best thinkers in the world and the best doers for the world.