The Morning Handshake

By: Neil Mufson
A Country School tradition and one of Mr. Mufson's favorite things: the morning handshake.
A confession after 29 years of being Head of School: as I wake up and get ready for school each morning, I begin to the feel the excitement and anticipation of greeting your children. The fact that I have shaken over 1.6 million hands early each morning since I came here in 1990 doesn’t diminish the experience for me. That is because The Country School morning handshake is far more than symbol.
The morning handshake is a metaphor for the school’s partnership with parents. It is a sacred hand off, from home to school. It marks the trust we have in one another to do well by our precious children. It is a warm and genuine welcome; an intimate moment of human exchange; a time for me to assess mood or concern or anxiety; an opportunity for me to collect unsolicited drawings, jokes, and the kinds of little stories that make us human.   
Yes, the morning handshake teaches children to greet other people properly, with respect, a look into the eyes, a kind and appropriate greeting. Yes, our children develop poise, self-confidence, and disciplined social skills from the handshake. However, the handshake also conveys these critical messages: This is your school. You are known here. You are seen here. You are valued here. You are loved here. 
You are leaving home. Welcome to school. Welcome to your other home.

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