“What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet.” ― William Shakespeare
Shakespeare was on to something when he so astutely pointed out that a rose is a rose no matter what we call it. But can we go so far as to say that the names we use don’t matter at all? I think they do. And perhaps one of the most important things names do is provide us with a way to connect.
Very early in my teaching career I lived and worked at Oakwood Friends School. There I learned the Quaker testimonies of equality and simplicity. It’s because of these values that I learned to be called Alex, instead of Mr. Brosowsky. Even now that I am Head of School, all of you know me by my first name.
As a Friends School, TQS is committed to the Quaker testimonies, or values—what we call the SPICES. The acronym stands for Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality, and Stewardship. Even in these divided times, SPICES are values of which everyone can be proud.
As part of our testimonies of simplicity and equality, we don’t often use titles at TQS. Likewise, you and your children address your teacher on a first-name basis.
I know this may feel strange for families joining our community from the formal public school system. I remember how strange it felt for me at first, back in my first days at Oakwood Friends School. However, Quakers have not traditionally used titles; here at TQS we largely have not used them either. And now, over the course of this year, we will phase out the use of titles completely.
For those that have been with the school for a time, you will not notice a change. You already call me Alex. Alumni have been calling Jenn Gallagher “Jenn” for more than 20 years. Christina Pearson, one of the school’s first graduates and the school’s enrollment counselor, has always been known to you as Christina.
If you are newer to the school, the use of first names may feel unfamiliar. That’s ok. Living the values of simplicity and equality comes from practice, and soon enough the use of first names will feel natural—and maybe even more significant—to you as well.