While I’m rarely short on words, I’m struggling to describe the past three weeks as a public education leader. Less than twenty days ago, many of us gathered together at the MASA Spring Conference to learn together, recognize the excellent work of our colleagues, and celebrate those of us who are ending successful careers. Those three days were an ominous trailer for the next few weeks, with new information coming out hourly that often led to more questions than answers. As we read this, we know that our entire paradigm for public education has changed.
I’m betting the words “social distancing” and “distance learning” would have been abstract on March 1st. Today, every one of us can clearly define what these words mean in theory, and in practice in our school system. The idea that every single school system in the state would close for eight days and reopen in a new format probably seemed too ridiculous to share, yet it has now happened. Most importantly, the concept that the next twelve weeks are anything but concrete and events like scholarship night, honors ceremony, and graduation are quite possibly not going to happen, or at least not like they have in the past, is surprisingly acceptable given our current reality. There is no teaching that can replace lived experience.
Where I find pride, and hope, is in our ability to pull together and make it work for our students, our community, and society. I’ve never felt that public education was more critical to the fabric of our stable society as I do now. We are the stability in the lives of our emergency and medical professionals. We are the guarantee of nutrition for families in crisis. We are the consistency for our students and families in a terrifying, ever-changing world.
We are hope in dark times.
I’m incredibly proud of the educational leaders across the state who have stepped up to the challenge and have committed to be there for our students, families, and communities. Our ability to step up will only increase the trust our community has in public education.