Welcome back to you all!
As blog is posted today, my dedicated team are meeting with me on Zoom to launch this new term, armed with creative ideas, final plans and positivity. I am immensely proud of our school community and the teaching and administration team at WPNY are full of their customary professionalism and good humour.
Before I go further, it is important to stop and share with you some thoughts and observations. On every level, what an extraordinary time it has been and how much has changed since we left for Spring Break on Thursday 12th March. We have weathered harder news and times since the end of term, but a show of solidarity and love has shown just how strong we all are together. I write this to you from the comfort of my apartment on the Upper West Side and from next week, we shall be sharing Head of School and Faculty video clips to keep you all entertained and updated. Never, has communication and contact mattered more.
There have been many analogies used to describe the times we have temporarily entered and whether that be ‘unchartered territory’, ‘stormy seas’ or a ‘new era’, there is one thing of which I am quite certain. If we are to follow the advice and guidance, we are given to stay safe, we shall navigate our way through this period, together. As you know, reading is one of many of my favourite pastimes and I have also listened to some excellent radio podcasts in the last two weeks. Combined with that, I have been closely in touch with fellow Head of Schools around the world, based in all parts of the US and UK, Ireland, China, Singapore, France, New Zealand and Spain. We have much to learn and share in these extraordinary times; after all, suddenly the world has been united with a common goal.
The power of music and culture have been felt across the globe more than ever and I have seen some beautiful musical concerts, attended open virtual gallery exhibitions and have walked the Boards of Broadway on an entirely new level. It would seem we are all being given a chance to value and appreciate the world with fresh eyes for now and have been given a privileged key to access new and private worlds, previously unshared. People seem to have more of themselves to offer and this generosity of spirit has not gone unnoticed. Many corporations and enterprises have had to show tremendous resilience and the ability for adaptation and re-invention. I know the people in the surrounding area of Foxrock in Dublin were pleased to experience the delights of Ballyhack beech smoked salmon, crispy duck and their specialty chicken, leek and smoked ham pie on a takeaway menu. Collection and delivery is something that ‘Bistro One’ has never done before. As you know, this restaurant is owned by Irish relatives and whilst they have now had to close to safeguard their employees, there is new thought for regeneration going forward. They will be back and no doubt, with some new perspectives!
As we are sat in our homes, each family and household face different challenges and we shall be there to walk those with you and support you through it all, as we move forward. However, I have thought a great deal about what this period of personal and family isolation has given us all. In short, it has given us time. This period of history shall certainly redefine our sense of time; time suddenly alters in these situations. As we rely more on virtual learning in coming weeks, what better opportunity have we been given to teach our children about appropriate, meaningful and safe online communication. I feel we have been given a ‘sharp focuser’ here and children will respect it far more going forward. What an extraordinary chance we have been given to value growth mindset and changed perspectives. This period certainly requires courage, effort and new ways of thinking. Not easy, and this will come with its challenges and frustrations. We have to get used to living with a certain amount of uncertainty, but we are in that together, and we may just surprise ourselves.
I have asked my fellow Heads in other schools to share their experiences of online school learning with me. Schools across the world are on different calendars and term dates and at different stages of COVID-19. The resounding messages have been clear. Number one, ‘preserve the sanity of the parents!’, number two, ‘preserve the sanity of the parents!’ and oh, number three, ‘preserve the sanity of the parents!’ My joking aside though, this is a strong message for us to remember and the second clear and genuine message I have received is that, ‘less is certainly more’. Many schools have set out from the start with hefty work schedules and activity suggestions for their early years children, which have not been sustainable. As we start on Monday, you will have different experiences and your children will all approach this change in varying ways. But knowing the WPNY children, they will all rise to the challenge and our class and specialist teachers will guide and support them through it all. No doubt, some families will need more and less than others.
All I ask, is that we work together through this. Thank you in advance for your patience as we may need to tweak and revise as we go along to reach your bespoke home learning needs, from Monday. We do not have guaranteed timelines and dates but what we do have, is the certainty that we will make the very most of this and your children will grow in new and unexpected ways. A great deal of thought has gone into the online curriculum and rest assured, each year group schedule has been carefully designed to consider the ages, individual ability and specific needs of each class.