Greens Farms Academy is a PreK-12, coed school in Westport, CT

One Good Thing

While Thanksgiving may look and feel different this year for many families, at the core, its primary purpose of gratitude has never been more meaningful. If you’ve spent time on GFA’s campus or heard Head of School Bob Whelan speak, you’re likely familiar with one of his commonplace practices — the “one good thing” exercise. The science behind it that when you train your mind to focus on one good thing that has happened recently, it becomes easier for your brain to focus on the positive. 

In the spirit of gratitude, we asked members of our GFA community to share their “one good thing” of the fall semester on campus thus far — and the results are something we should all take great pride in.


Seeing students smiling faces (behind their masks), hearing their laughter, and seeing the joy return to our school community. I have found comfort in being back at GFA, and that's ALWAYS a good thing!” — Shanelle Henry, Director of Equity and Inclusion

GFA was made better in light of all the craziness in the world by the ability to be in person and feel reconnected to the community. While being in person has its ups and downs, seeing my teachers and friends is a comforting routine that I am so grateful for with this year being my last at GFA. — Cayla Bernstein, Class of 2021

One good thing, one of many, is stopping in the morning to take in a peaceful moment and be grateful for all that we have. And watching teamwork at its best every day! — Carolyn Skiba, Administrative Assistant to the Head of Middle School

Being able to make new friends and see old ones. — Oliver Williams, Class of 2027

That even amidst a pandemic, we were able to have a modified fall sports season and the students got to play games! — Tauni Butterfield, Director of Athletics

Sharing laughter with my classmates and enjoying the sense of togetherness that being on campus brings me. — Nancy Duer, Class of 2023

Finding a velociraptor skull during our Paleontology dig! — Henry, Class of 2033

The opportunity to be with my students and make music again. I have not been able to make in-person music on any notable scale since the shutdown occurred. Having the US Chamber Orchestra in session for the next 8-week rotation is truly a joy and definitely a good thing! — Chris Hisey, US Orchestra

Being able to see my friends in person again and eating outside with them. — Diego Lebrija, Class of 2026

On one of those beautiful October Fridays, I went across the street to Burying Hill Beach. Nobody had a phone out. There was no social drama. Though they were all wearing their masks, I don’t think they even noticed. They were just rolling up their pants’ legs and letting sand crabs crawl over the backs of their hands and enjoying a moment, however brief, when the world didn’t feel completely upside down and they could just be.
Ben Gott, MS English

The way that we have all been able to be together, full time this fall. It seems we have gotten extremely lucky that we have been able to stay open this long without much of a disruption. I am just so thankful that this Fall semester has been such a success.  — Phoebe Bryan, Class of 2025

Eating lunch with my colleagues on sunny days in the amphitheater. Before COVID, I always ate lunch in my classroom and never took advantage of eating with everyone. We've shared some really funny stories over lunch this fall, and I've really enjoyed getting to know everyone better. — Sue Teyan, Assistant Head of the Upper School

Despite all the challenges, I am thankful to work with such amazing educators and colleagues who still find reasons to smile behind each
and every day! — Stefania Vendrella, Associate Teacher

Committing to Hobart and playing soccer at GFA. Soccer has been what has kept me going. — William Whelan, Class of 2021

While working with more students than ever before often equates to more stress and work on the front end, it's refreshing to get to know more students across the grade better than we otherwise would with homeroom structures. Each Pod has its own unique personality and it's gratifying to create more close connections with our students in the Pod structure. — Bryan Matte, Associate Teacher

Building and playing my drum at Building and Design during Discovery. — Connor, Class of 2033

Being able to be a part of an in-person team again. Even while some restrictions were in place, it proved to be amazing. I loved being at practice with all of my teammates and it made me really happy to see everyone together. — Larson Palmgren, Class of 2021

The opportunity to integrate more mindfulness and meditation in the Middle School and seeing how engaged, curious and eager the students are to learn more AND that everyone in the GFA community is building resilience and strength by showing WE CAN DO HARD THINGS. — Jackie Woods, MS Counselor

Getting to share our class charter during assembly. — Phoebe, Class of 2033

One good thing about the Fall 2020 semester at GFA for me has been the ability to learn in-person. All of the faculty and staff are doing such a tremendous job and working tirelessly to keep us at school, and I am beyond grateful for that. — Tyler Bierman, Class of 2021