Nobles Parents' E-Newsletter

February 2016

Nobles Parents' Newsletter February 2016

"My Three Favorite Phrases" by Interim Director of the Middle School Colette Finley

Middle School Dean Colette Finley is serving as interim director of the middle school while John Gifford is on sabbatical this term. She also teaches math and coaches girls hockey and volleyball.

I was struggling to come up with one main topic to write for the newsletter, so instead, I went with some of my favorite phrases that I find fitting for life at Nobles.

Number 1 – Know your resources.

As a teenager, I was not exactly an advocate of reflective essays or position papers.  Perhaps due to the fact that I very rarely had strong opinions on anything, I found these tasks to be rather daunting. Upon receipt of an assignment of the sort, I made sure to propose the topic for discussion around the dinner table. With older siblings, they spoke about these matters with such developed and confident thoughts it almost always provided me ammunition. At the culmination of dinner, I would scurry back to my notebook and reflect upon the perspectives recently shared just moments before. 

While this was a sneaky way of utilizing my resources, I think this anecdote displays how important it is for kids to learn where to go when seeking answers or opinions that provide clarity or who to turn to when they are in need of assistance navigating a difficult situation.  Sadly, my school was very different than Nobles in that I was not warranted the same access to adults and other mentors. My hope is that if a student at Nobles finds themselves in a peculiar position, they would know what resources they have at their immediate disposal. Advisor, teacher, coach, friends - middle school is a crucial time for students to move away from the earning to continuously rely upon their parents for answers and seek other people in their lives for clarity and guidance.  Perhaps self-advocacy, a skill we focus on in the middle school, could also be called “knowing your resources.”

Number 2 – Only at Nobles

Whether intended to induce humor or humility, I constantly find myself using the phrase “only at Nobles” to describe a moment or perspective that I encounter on a daily basis.  On the more lighthearted side, I told a visitor to Nobles that I would meet them later for lunch in the castle, and he preceded to look at me like I was crazy. Yes, lunch in a castle is rather bizarre from the vantage point of a person not within the Nobles community. Or when speaking with a group of college friends that only know of Nobles from what I have shared, and I explain that my next school field trip is to South Africa. Two clear examples of “only at Nobles.”

I find this phrase even more powerful when describing interactions I have with students. “only at Nobles” echoes through my thoughts constantly. Like when I have two middle school girls sitting in my office inquiring about how they can be more inclusive of a student, when my players all thank me at the culmination of practice or when I watch the creativity and uniqueness of a Who am I project that captivates an audience. I’m not trying to say that these kids are perfect, and I sure wouldn’t want them to strive for perfection, but I am continually impressed by the way they carry themselves day to day. I feel blessed to work at such a school filled with amazing students that make me have “only at Nobles” moments.

Number 3 – The harder you work, the luckier you get.

I can’t take credit for the origin of this exact phrase. John Gifford told me someone at Nobles had bestowed this pearl of wisdom upon him many years back, but I couldn’t agree more.  One example of continuous hard work and fortitude is the creation of the Nobles volleyball program I started with my co-head coach, Kimya Charles, a few years back. This team was born from numerous proposals, meetings and conversations. Kimya and I worked diligently to educate ourselves and prepare a team that never once played the sport.  The team worked tirelessly to learn the game and improve as players. Through this intense work ethic, the girls have been able to accomplish incredible milestones in just three years. I attribute this success to hard work across the board, while reflecting on just how fortunate we are that this program now exists.

In life, I try to avoid complaining and rather focus that energy on working even harder until something positive happens. I have found that the more painful the process, the more rewarding the outcome.  Middle school students often know what they want for a result but can struggle to come up with the steps to get them to that result. The hard work that stands in their way can be intimidating, but there is a good track record for students who consistently work hard. Through effective effort, students will open more doors and in turn, better their odds for good fortune.

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If you have questions, comments or suggestions for this newsletter, email Kim Neal at