Hello everyone! We’ve now hit the one month mark of remote learning, and being away from our “home away from home” – the Goshen Campus. It feels like such a long time ago that we were all together doing the things we typically take for granted, like attending Morning Meetings, passing each other in the halls with smiles and fist bumps, having classes, looking forward to lunch (and Cuban pork day!), heading to practices, clubs, and rehearsals after school, and so much more. Simply “normal” life. That’s all been turned upside down as we all adjust to this new temporary and, at times, grim reality. 

And change isn’t easy. I’m sure we can all talk about the struggles we’ve seen – whether it be in our own homes, with our own children, or in talking with family or friends. And yet, I’ve also seen so many wonderful things – resilience, growth, and determination – in the last month! And that’s what I want to share with you, some of those moments and thoughts that remind us just how wonderful the human spirit is and how people can shine in the worst of times. 

I’ve had a “window” into the remote learning classes and have seen so much growth in such a short amount of time. In the beginning, just trying to conduct an online class was exceedingly difficult. Students talked over each other and used the chat feature to write many things, most of which had nothing to do with the lesson. Teachers struggled trying to convey content, form community, and manage the students. And then in a few days, it all started shifting towards something more familiar – Progressive education at St. Francis! Our students learned what was expected of them and our teachers were able to begin exploring and playing with the many “bells and whistles” they hadn’t used before. This was incredibly affirming to see! 

And we’ve maintained as much normalcy and routine as we can. We still have “remote Morning Meetings” via video (a new skill for me!) and the Student Council sends in their video announcements, as well as special guest videos. We are still holding faculty meetings after school (remotely, of course) and meeting to discuss the well being of our students by grade level. Students are still meeting in their advisory and lead groups (some even continuing with their advisory breakfasts!), we had dress-up days two weeks ago, and we’re connecting with our “Buddies” this week by having them make cards of encouragement and sending them electronically to each other! Here are some other favorite moments:

  • Our teachers are making amazing videos to share with their kids! And I must say, the Lower School teachers are especially excelling in this area. Andrew Frechette has transformed his classroom into a mini-Dungeons and Dragons world complete with student avatars, Emily Campbell is making compilation videos of her students dancing like honeybees, many teachers greet their kids with a morning video so their students can still see their smiling faces (and living rooms, porches, and pets!), and Faith Murphy is becoming somewhat of a legend with her creative and funny musical videos!
  • Our students are also doing some wonderful things! Here is an incredibly creative example of book spine poetry from Lilly Paradis done for Shelly Jones’ language arts class.
  • April is National Poetry Month and Patrick Donovan’s 8th graders are recording one of their favorite poems to share with everyone at Morning Meeting. Here is Frey Blandford’s poem from this past Wednesday.
  • The picture at the top of my article, sent in by Caryn Winter, shows her children, Margaret and Harry, at the end of a school day taking in the sunset. 

It’s moments like these that restore our faith in our present and future and remind us of what is really important. While we are struggling to some degree, I know we are also all succeeding, and will continue to help each other grow and get through this process. So continue to help your child(ren), encourage them to read more, listen to music, cook with you, exercise, and certainly get outdoors when possible! In my reading the other day, I came across some quotes from John F. Kennedy, and want to share a few appropriate ones with you as I close:

“We are not here to curse the darkness, but to light the candle that can guide us through that darkness to a safe and sane future.” 

“If not us, who? If not now, when?”

“A rising tide raises all boats.”

Stay safe, and we hope to see you in the near future!