The gift of friendship

Alex Shockey Landon School blog

Alex Shockey P '17 '25 wrote this blog post about her experience as a Landon parent over the past decade. Her eldest son Justin '17 started at Landon in Grade 3, is now a senior and a varsity lacrosse player, and will attend the United States Naval Academy next fall. Alex's youngest son Theo '25 is a fourth grader who also came to the Landon in Grade 3. Alex has been involved at Landon as a Greens Sale and Azalea Festival volunteer, as a Form V room parent during the 2015–16 school year, and as a Grade 4 room parent this year.

Our family loves Landon. We started out in the third grade, wide-eyed, and had no idea about anything. We really liked the Landon boys model, which understood active children like Justin. I remember going into [former Grade 3 teacher] Sheila Lockshin's class during a visit, and the 15 boys in there were totally engaged, yet most of them were not sitting down properly in their chairs. They were up and down or kneeling in their chairs, yet they were all completely focused on the discussion. Mrs. Lockshin didn't care what their bodies were doing so long as the boys were engaging with her on the subject. She understood that some boys — like our son — are wiggly!

That's something I still see today with my youngest son Theo. He started in Third Grade last year and is now in Fourth, and he loves it. The little boys are so filled with joy and energy, and I truly believe it is because they are getting a loving experience. Randy Bednar is fantastic as the head of the Lower School. The boys love him! You can see how well he wants everything to go. He has several mottos, which I think are great and we should keep in mind during the journey of raising and educating our sons. One is by Forest Witcraft: "A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove. But the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child." Another goes something like this: "We're not perfect, but as long as we are civil and reasonable with each other and keep in mind that we are trying to make this the best place possible for our boys, then we'll do a good job together."

The Grade 4 teaching team that Theo has is incredible — Richard O'Connor, Stevie Brown and Rachel Cohen. The three of them are very different, but all very positive and complement each other nicely. Theo is always excited to go to school and always comes home tired but happy. Wandering over to Beth Hughes' science room and to art classes in other buildings makes Theo feel like a big guy. The fact that the kids switch classrooms to get exposure to the different teachers is also great. Mr. O'Connor is super fun, and I think it's important for our boys to get exposure to positive male role models.

The other thing my family loves about Landon is that it is a place where kids are celebrated for music and athletics, art and academics, and whatever else they may do. Justin is a good cellist and played in the Symphonette with some of his teachers and professional musicians, which is a great opportunity for kids who want that experience. I am constantly amazed at how talented these Landon boys are! You walk around the Landow Gallery and wonder when the kids are making their professional debut as artists!

One of the most wonderful things about Landon for Justin — and something Theo is starting to experience — has been the brotherhood. Justin is a 10-year Bear and he loves these boys. One of the greatest gifts we've been able to give Justin is a school where he has all these brothers, all these people, all these happy memories. These are going to be his lifelong friends. It's so amazing to have such strong friendships.

Landon has given me some of my closest friends too. Through volunteering, I have gotten involved in the community and gotten to know many of the parents. My very first parents meeting at Landon, [then Head of Lower School] Marcos Williams said: "Look around. These are great people. Your boys will be friends, and it will help to know their families, especially during the high school years. So make a connection with at least one parent each time you are together and you will be glad you did. You may be meeting some of your best, lifelong friends." He was right!