Around 6:00 am in the morning on March 12th, I discovered that Loudoun County Public Schools had reached a decision (in the middle of the night) to abruptly close its doors. Destiny parents, students, and teachers would likely be getting ready for their day, some completely unaware of the LCPS school board decision and some already looking for guidance. For me, as a school administrator of a private school, this was the day the Coronavirus made its debut.
As an independent school, we made the decision to remain open. A few days later, when the Governor of Virginia closed all schools indefinitely, we made the quick decision to launch a distance learning program. Due to creative problem solving and a hardworking and flexible staff, we were able to set up a an effective online platform in less than a week’s time. Most significantly, student learning continued for the remainder of the school year! This past fall, we made another independent decision to provide full-time, in-person learning to our students. Teaching face-to-face during a pandemic has been both difficult and tremendously rewarding.
For each and every pandemic conundrum, our school leadership has felt an immediate pressure to make solid decisions amid many unknowns. This very plight has been a repeating theme for me, and for most professionals, parents, and individuals as we try to make sense of our new reality. With certain businesses struggling, many individuals have needed to unexpectedly forge new career paths. Teachers have struggled to organize large inventories of non-sharable supplies and socially distance desks in classrooms where space is limited. Parent workdays now include proctoring the studies of a quarantined child who will be celebrating a virtual birthday. This is a new world for us all.
Different, but the Same
Just as some of our individual, professional, and parental roles have changed, some new descriptors have also evolved for our school. For example, this fall we zoomed our Back-to-School Night, filmed our annual Christmas performance, and learned to recognize each other from above and below face masks. Our preschool enrollment dramatically decreased while our elementary program practically doubled. We lost important staff members and gained new ones. Our rhythm has undoubtedly changed, as there are now many oddities and inconveniences. With so many big edits to our school logistics and culture, I can tell you that we are still acclimating.
My newsletter is something that has been pushed aside. Today, however, I would like to resurrect this pre-Covid practice to reflect on and confirm who we are and what still matters. Among broad stroke changes, the heart of who we are remains the same.
We love our kids, and we love our school. We are committed to excellence and to growth. We seek to have true relationships within our community, and we wholeheartedly desire to preserve the humanity of things while we socially distance and screen for temperatures. No one is a number, and no one is a germ. We are here because we are called to be. We encourage our students to make connections to curriculum, but also to us and to each other. And we will continue to do all that we can safely and effectively offer in-school instruction.
At times, we will be clumsily maneuvering new practices, policies, and circumstances. However, our commitment to our students and to our school is firm and supersedes all the pre and the post of COVID-19. It is my fervent desire for every child, teacher, and family to find and cultivate solace and relief at Destiny. We are blessed as Destiny truly shines, in both good times and bad, as we hold on to what really matters.
God bless you this new year,