Amazed by Grace

I will never forget the day I first walked through the doors of Grace with my young son. He had spent time at our local public school, which was an excellent and convenient option for many children; but our quiet, thoughtful six-year-old son had not thrived in that busy, noisy environment, and we were, for the first time in our family, considering an independent school.

The simplicity of the signage and humble, modest exterior of the building -- formerly an MCPS elementary school -- made the sunny, gloriously peaceful hallway that greeted us feel precious and magical. Those first moments at Grace were transformative for me. They completely altered my understanding of what a school could be. The administrator who greeted us was cheerful and warm, and the first grade classroom we visited was memorable. Light flooded in through the tall windows; the classroom was large and airy, and the small class size allowed students the space to move around, and enjoy multiple micro-environments, all in the same room. Another unexpected gift was the outdoor campus found just through the east and south doors of the building -- of course Grace had playground structures, as all schools do, but they also had a large, open field, and even a serene little nature trail through the woods, perfectly sized for elementary-aged children, at the south end. I learned that students enjoyed outdoor time at least twice(!) each day on the spacious grounds, and that both art and music were an integral part of the curriculum. The students seemed comfortable and happy. It was a wonder.

My worst fear had been that Grace, like some independent schools, would not look like our local public school. We had consciously chosen to live in Montgomery County, very near the District, because we wanted our children to grow up seeing as many faces of the world as possible. We knew it would enrich and benefit them to be immersed in a community of different races, ethnicities, religions, and languages. To my amazement, Grace offered that, also. We submitted our application that first day.

Nearly a decade later, with the support of parents, grandparents, alumnae/i, friends and partners, and under the leadership of Jen Danish and her extraordinary team, amazing Grace has reached its 60th year. Although that milestone is a happy one, we celebrate it in the midst of a global pandemic, which has taken the lives of our loved ones and upended our daily routines. It has also placed a spotlight on just one of the many impacts of our country’s longstanding systemic racial and socioeconomic inequities: both sickness and death rates for Covid-19 are higher for Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and other people of color than they are for white people.

I believe that Grace is the sort of community that this moment in history calls for. Our role is not only to protect, educate, and nurture a student body that mirrors the diversity of the larger world, but also to actively engage in antiracist teaching and learning in order to change that world by making it safer, more compassionate, more equitable, and more inclusive.

I invite you to consider supporting the amazing work of Grace.

With gratitude,

Kathleen Murray
Advancement Associate
advancement@geds.org / 240.292.5217