The Enormous Impact of Small Moments

Dr. Kai Bynum
I kicked off the 2021–2022 school year by taking a selfie on Parr Field with the entire Hopkins community behind me. Ever since, I’ve looked at that photo on my phone over and over again. What I love about it the most is that it isn’t a perfectly polished picture. The angle is slightly off, the rays of sun somewhat blur Thompson behind the crowd, and not everyone is looking directly at the camera. The photo is, in a word, real. Nothing is out of place. There we are, together again, ready to begin another adventure. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
It is true that there is value in big-picture thinking but it is also true that the story of our tremendous School is ultimately a kaleidoscope of small moments strung together over time. It is in these moments when the true strengths of our people can be seen in full color. This is why our latest edition of Views puts a magnifying glass over the day-to-day hustle and bustle to find the beauty within.
As I reflect on my time at Hopkins, many stories and memories flood my mind. While I appreciate the many things we’ve accomplished together over the years, my thoughts continue to turn to snapshots of authentic episodes and experiences that have made this a wonderful place for me and for all of us.
The few snippets included in this piece represent many others that I could have highlighted here, and I feel extraordinarily blessed to have had such happiness and connection with a community of people who believe in the power of a good school. I will always love Hopkins, and I want to thank the students, faculty, staff, alumni/ae, and parents for making this a special community.


Last class at Hopkins for longtime English teacher Donna Fasano ’68 DPH

Good teaching and caring about the kids are at the heart of the Hopkins experience, and I’ll never forget the ways in which Donna Fasano epitomized this principle. One of the last pieces of advice she shared with her colleagues in a faculty meeting on the eve of her retirement was to “just love the kids,” and these words speak volumes about why being a teacher is so important to me. This photo was taken in her final class at Hopkins.

J-School production of Alice in Wonderland, 2017

I smile when I think about the energy on the stage at one of the first Junior School plays I attended in 2017, and I’ve enjoyed watching our young artists mature with confidence, poise, and talent over the years. I found the most joy in watching the actors grow from the J-School plays through all of the Upper School productions, and I really appreciate the sense of happiness and inclusion they bring to Hopkins. In each season of the academic year, they brought spirit and energy to the School through their high-quality performances.

Inaugural gathering of Hopkins Black Alumni Network (HBAN)

I am proud of how we have worked to deepen our commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and access. Ensuring that more students from different backgrounds can enjoy the offerings of Hopkins has been a guiding force, and increasing financial aid has been one of my main priorities. We have also worked to enhance both the experience and representation of people of color in our community, and this goal is captured in the first gathering of HBAN outside of Heath seen in this photo. It was a beautiful sight to witness all of us together in one space to acknowledge the connection we have to each other and the School.

Coach Tim Phipps giving an inspiring postgame pep talk to players and Hopkins fans

When I think of other times our community has felt alive and connected, my mind takes me to the cold autumn night in 2019 when, after an amazing comeback win in a Hopkins playoff football game, Coach Phipps brought his players together and invited all of the students at the game to gather on the field for his postgame speech. He then gave one of the most inspiring talks I have heard in sports, as he yelled to everyone, “We are all Hilltoppers!” The pride, appreciation, and togetherness we felt in that moment was palpable and unforgettable.

Hopkins Hybrid Graduation Ceremony, June 2020

For the better part of two years, we have all had the rhythm and regularity of our Hopkins lives disrupted by COVID-19, making it difficult for us to grasp the moments of community and connection that we appreciate. No aspect of school life was left unaffected by the pandemic, but we worked hard to create and recreate as much as we possibly could for the students. In June of 2020, we held our first (and hopefully only) hybrid commencement, with students socially distanced and masked outside, while families still had to stay in their cars. This event epitomized the resilience of the students as they persevered through an unprecedented time in our history. The moment was so unique, I had to capture it with this selfie while on stage.

Chaperoning a Dance with Marie Doval

COVID-19 challenged us in many ways, but it also reminded us what we appreciate about the School and the many people who make this experience happen. Relationships with people are central to Hopkins, and as I reflect on my time here, I cherish the fun times I’ve had with my colleagues. Through the daily activities, plays, classes, games, and dances, we found opportunities to have fun and enjoy being there for the kids. Here Marie Doval and I are chaperoning a dance.

Class of 2022, Six-Year Club

I have been fortunate to share my six-year journey with many in our senior class. Their 7th grade year was my first at Hopkins, and I have been blessed to watch them grow and mature as capable, committed, and
inspired young people. It seems as if they were in the Junior School just a day ago, and now they are ready to claim their space and place in the world beyond our campus. The Class of 2022 has made my time at Hopkins rich and fulfilling, and I want to thank them for their leadership, inspiration, and partnership over the years. They are emblematic of the Hopkins students who have made this an exceptional place to live and work. In essence, they epitomize the hope we have for all of our kids, and they are one of the reasons why I love Hopkins.

This article appears in the Winter 2021–2022 issue of VIEWS
    • First Day of School Assembly, Parr Field, 2021

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      Best Day School
      in CT, 2022

Hopkins is a private middle school and high school for grades 7-12. Located on a campus overlooking New Haven, CT, the School takes pride in its intellectually curious students as well as its dedicated faculty and staff.