Comfortable being themselves

In this blog post, Tomi Fadeyi-Jones shares how Landon has helped her sons, junior Ade '19 and sixth grader Deji '24, embrace independence and become comfortable in their own skin. Tomi has been involved at Landon as a room parent, an "ambassador" who helps new families get acclimated to the school, a member of the Strategic Planning Committee helping Landon map its future, and currently serves as vice chair of the Landon Mothers Association (LMA). Her husband, Steve, is a member of the Board of Trustees.

My two boys, Ade and Deji, have very different personalities and interests. By the time Deji hit second grade, we knew he needed a boy-focused school environment that would give him the autonomy to make decisions, explore new things, develop his strengths, and just have the space to run around. We found that at Landon, and Deji started in third grade. Ade, who has a more reserved personality, came to Landon after he graduated from Norwood School in eighth grade.

Ade was unsure about the single-sex school environment at first, but after he visited Landon and observed a senior-level class taught by Rob Bordley, he knew he wanted to come to Landon. He really liked how Mr. Bordley engaged the students and how interested they were to learn as they had a spirited conversation about the material.

Ade has come into himself at Landon as this secure, independent and confident young man. Through his involvement in various activities, he has developed friendships with boys who share common interests. When I ask him, "Who did you sit with at lunch today?" I'll hear names of friends from yearbook, from water polo, from swimming, from Multicultural Student Alliance, from the Landon in China summer trip, and those who share his interest in technology. He has appreciated being exposed to new things and being able to take risks in such a supportive environment.

Deji loves making his own independent decisions. He's into art and will sometimes pass on going outside for recess to spend the time drawing in the art room. During Lower School, he joined the "Animal Crew," and would spend time in the science room feeding the animals and cleaning the cages. He's been on Student Council twice, the first time in third grade and then again in fifth grade. In fifth grade, he said, "In third grade, I wasn't quite sure how it all worked. I think I can do better now." He too has developed strong relationships and friendships with boys who share his common interest... even if different from his brother's.

As a parent, I truly value being a part of this community. I appreciate the ability to choose my level of involvement and volunteerism and the relationships I've built as a result. During the 2017 Azalea Festival, Rachel Shrensky (mother of Coby '21 and Liam '24) and I co-chaired the Funland carnival. We spent a lot of time together and became good friends through that process. As an ambassador family, it has been great to helping new Landon families get acclimated. Coming in to Landon, knowing that someone is there to help and support you makes such a huge difference for the family's experience.

The teachers, staff and administrators at Landon support our boys not just as students but also as individual people. They get to know the boys and truly care about their well-being, growth and development. When Deji was in third grade, he had strep throat and was out of school for a week. His teacher, Stevie Brown, and his class actually called him and left a voice message that said, "Hi Deji! We miss you and hope you're feeling better. We can't wait for you to come back!" We played it for him, and hearing Mrs. Brown's voice and his classmates' voices really made his day and cheered him up. As parents new to Landon at the time, that meant a lot to us as well. We realized, "Wow, the teachers really care about the boys as individuals." It's these little things that set Landon apart.