In second grade, I had three favorite songs: “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” from The Sound of Music, “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston, and my school song. I’d rewind tapes over and over again, carefully committing the lyrics to memory. Through the music, I became Liesl, the kind of waifish girl that every cute German boy wanted to be with. (I briefly became Rolf, but quickly realized that being a 17-year-old Nazi didn’t suit me much…) And I became a tiny Whitney Houston, ensuring that Kevin Costner absolutely knew that above all else, I wished him love.
The nice thing about my school song, though, was that I didn’t have to become anyone else to genuinely feel its meaning. “Wheeeeeeeen someone asks me where I go to school,” I’d shout with gusto, marching around the backyard, “I always stretch up tall, take a deep breath, and say with satisfaction—
I go to PDS
Because it is the best
Of course, I scarcely tried any other
So it’s not hard for me to discover
That’s my school, as a rule
It’s great, great, Princeton Day School (Great school!)
I loved Princeton Day School. I loved my classes, and I loved that the faculty seemed devoted to cultivating my creative little mind. I loved the cookies at the Snack Bar and my field hockey team and the planetarium. I loved the old wooden playground, which I fell off of in fourth grade and broke my arm (which set into motion: one, a series of injuries that plagued me through the years, and two, the replacement of our beloved jungle gym with a plastic-y, cold, metal playground that we resented). These days, I maintain a strong connection to the school that raised me, attending Alumni events near and far, Facebook friend-ing my former teachers, and donating annually like a good girl. (Of course, I only donate about fifty cents every time, because I went into the arts and frankly someone needs to donate to me.)
It made sense, then, that I would be destined to meet one of my favorite people through PDS: the one and only Sara Cooper. Sara Cooper is brilliant, hilarious, and fierce. She also attended PDS (and graduated a few years ahead of me…) and met my mother through the Board of Trustees there. Frankly, I have no idea when she and I met—she’s just been a comforting fixture, shuttling my grandmother to doctors’ appointments, making my mother laugh hysterically, and encouraging me to gorge myself on cheese with her. As a friend, she’s marvelous, and as a businesswoman, she’s incredible, using her savvy smarts to bolster the community. (This is not a shameless plug, I swear. I really think these things about her.) I like to think of her and myself as a wacky multi-generational team, acting with passion and smarts, and occasionally giving the world a much-needed reality check.
Selfishly, one of my favorite things about Sara is that she loves me. I am uncomfortably self-aware, and I know my faults. Sara knows them too. She looks at me, and she sees my faults, and she sees whatever extraordinary thing there is about me that connects me to others, and she loves all of it.
So here I sit considering how thankful I am—yes, the seasonal and creepy Elf on the Shelf is on the shelves, and I am waaaaay too late for Thanksgiving—for Sara, for her mentorship, and for women like her. I feel painfully lucky that I am a woman that can follow Sara’s professional leadership. And I adore that we get to work together at CCG, and that we get to take on the world side by side, one blog post/press release/website/martini at a time.