Part II in this little series of appreciations recognizes two members of our community who marked their tenth anniversary this year.
To be a translator is to be in a very trusted position. People rely on you to understand not only the words spoken, those concrete messages that we try to convey through language, but also the feeling and nuance conveyed, those other messages that can so often trip us up in our communications with each other as humans. Pilar is such a trusted person in our community of Marin Academy. Whether with her colleagues or her incredible support of her advisees and their parents, especially those for whom English is not their first language, Pilar has this at the heart of her work: honest, true communication so that each person can learn and grow to be their best selves. Hearing Pilar speak about her language teaching is truly inspirational. She is wise, dynamic, thoughtful. Her greatest compliment to her students is to hold them to high standards and to help them reach them. She wants them to work hard, but she wants them to know that she is in their corner. Of course, we know this most through how she models her own learning and growing; who can forget her class presentations at the Conference on Democracy? Lunch with her in the café always involves a good story or a great conversation. Thank you, Pilar, for your passionate teaching and your commitment to our students and families.
I’d like to get the light-hearted part of this out front first. When you walk into the Faculty/Staff workroom and notice that the pillows on the sofa really “pop,” think Sanjai. It is the same when you talk with her and notice that there is something a little different about her glasses, something even cooler than the day before. She has an incredible sense of style and doesn’t mind using it to help us make our world just a little zippier, just a little different, in a good way. In all seriousness, this same sense of style, of understanding the possibilities, marks her work at Marin Academy. How often do we hear others say, even ourselves say, “I’ll talk to Sanjai about that,” or “I bet Sanjai can help me think about that.” And it is true. We do, and she does. It takes a certain amount of courage with equal parts hope and resilience to do the work of multiculturalism and diversity in our country, much less in a school. In a place where we all, by our very nature and profession, work to help people become their best selves, it can be tricky business for us to understand sometimes what we intended was not what was experienced. It is the intent vs. outcome part of our work together. Luckily for us, Sanjai also appreciates the “both and” nature of this work. She can help our students and her colleagues think through a conversation, a situation, a moment and then imagine how to take the next step or do it differently at another time. Her work is always focused on what is best for our students, what they need to be wise decision makers in their lives and people who contribute meaningfully to their communities. Thank you, Sanjai, for helping us to be our best selves.