35 years ago, I found my happy place

35 years ago, I found my happy place

by Dr. Babette Claas

35 years ago, I found my happy place(s), to which I returned this summer. Reflecting on my summer break, here a few reasons why these are so dear to my heart:

35 years of luck. Little did I know on a sunny day in 1987 – getting off the plane in Charlottesville / Virginia and being picked up by my host father – how many ways this year would change my life. I still see that day clearly before my eyes. As an ASSIST American Secondary Schools for International Students and Teachers scholar it was luck – and fate – that I was chosen to go to St. Anne's-Belfield School (thanks Woody Rutter).

35 years of friendship are hard to beat. Not for one second did it seem like three years had passed since we last met. Seeing our children build the next generation of friendship was probably the most touching experience of this summer. Thank you for great conversations, lunches, dinners, and live music in beautiful settings – and for giving us a second home and family.

35 years of breathtaking views: the happiness you feel, when waking up in the morning, viewing the sun rise over the hills and the Blue Ridge Mountains still makes me smile. Or that view after the hike - more than rewarding. Vineyards, breweries and peach farms looking out into the Blue Ridge, what a way to wind down!

Beautiful View of a body of water between two cliffs
A large garden with the mountains in the distance

35 years of education: Thanks to my parents, I have been fortunate to receive an amazing education. They literally opened up the world for me. Now, we see it as our responsibility to pass on the gift of education on to the next generation (btw: all information on how to apply to ASSIST for 2023/2024 may be found here).

35 years of having 'that one teacher' who had a huge impact on my academic and professional life: For me, it was my history teacher, Ms. Malone, who fostered my interest in history and political science. Here we are, 35 years later sitting in that exact same room, now being the office of the head of school. Thank you, Autumn Graves, for finding the time to discuss the current state of education, giving us so many insights and sharing our interest in entrepreneurship education.

Even though the break is over, the memories of happy place(s) are here to stay: A huge thank you goes out to my family for an unforgettable month, which ended at the US Open in New York.

Wishing everyone a great start after their holidays — especially all of you returning to school.


    St. Anne's-Belfield School