Our Grade 7 students haven't had an uninterrupted school year since they were in Grade 4; our graduating students haven't had one since Grade 9. It is difficult to believe that it was more than a year and a half ago that we closed the school and went online for what many of us anticipated would be a much shorter disruption to schooling and to our lives.
For people across the country and around the world, COVID-19 has brought about a perspective shift. It has forced us to examine what is most important to us and how we want our lives to look moving forward.
Last weekend, a male cardinal sang outside my window all day. I figure the little guy was looking for a partner. Lucky him that he doesn’t have to physically distance. Meanwhile, our teens are being asked to stay away from one another in the name of safety, which means dating and making new friends are things that they are missing out on.
The COVID-19 pandemic has put tremendous pressure on all of us to adapt -- especially when it comes to events. Many of us have had to find new (often virtual) ways of celebrating birthdays, holding family dinners and socializing with colleagues. While these adapted events aren’t perfect solutions, they are the ties that have held us all together over this last year.
No matter what line of work you are in, I believe that showing up each and every day prepared to do your best makes all the difference. Over time, that cumulative day-to-day effort makes a huge impact.
Our students have been engaged in Black History Month and are taking advantage of these learning opportunities as they continue to better understand our role as a school and community into shaping our collective story.
It is fitting that I am writing this on Groundhog Day, because this past year has certainly had aspects that remind us of the movie Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray in which he is trapped in a day that repeats itself. However, I appreciate the opportunities to chat with members of my household and to take in the changes of season and changes in the neighbourhood on these walks.
What a difficult job you’ve had, as parents, over the last 10+ months. Some days have likely been very tough, but you’ve managed. You may not have had anyone tell you that taking care of your children through this pandemic is remarkable. So, let me say: Way to go! Great adulting!
Something that Tom Ramshaw ‘09, an Olympic sailor for Team Canada, mentioned has really resonated with me; it feels more applicable than ever. He spoke about how important it is as a sailor to accept that there are some things that you can’t change. Sailors need to accept and work with the wind and weather during training and on competition day, because those factors are out of their control.
We have been forced to rethink the way we do everything this year, including student leadership. Our Heads of Student Leadership, Liv Arbess and Stewie Bain, have played an integral role in what has been achieved thus far in the 2020-21 school year.
Each day of 2020 seems to have brought with it new challenges, hurdles and mind-bending realities. Every student and staff member and their families are experiencing this year of challenges in their own way, but not necessarily on their own terms.
As Greenwood’s Principal, I am searching for ways to build empathy rather than hate. By appreciating our differences and learning from one another, we can deepen awareness of our own personal biases, value our authentic selves, and be allies and advocates. Our choices are impacting those around us daily, and we can all make a difference by consciously and purposefully choosing inclusion.
Last weekend, I attended the CAIS (Canadian Accredited Independent Schools) Chairs and Heads Conference (virtually, of course). During the conference, I had the pleasure of hearing and learning fromAnnahid Dashtgard.
Thanksgiving won’t feel the same this year. As recommended, I won’t be gathering with extended family; I find this difficult, but I also want to keep everyone safe. We will keep our close contacts to the members of our household and try to maintain a few traditions (like making pumpkin pie) and add new traditions (like virtual socials). I am sure your plans for the weekend don’t look the same as they would on most Thanksgiving weekends, but one tradition that I hope we can maintain is reflecting on the things that we are thankful for.
When I joined Greenwood as the school’s third Principal in 2018, I expected that I would face challenges in my role — problems to solve, new initiatives to get off the ground, planning for the school’s future. I certainly did not anticipate one of those challenges to be contending with a pandemic! I assume that you are also contending with new challenges and doing your best to navigate the current circumstances in which we find ourselves.
I’m about to share some advice from Grit Guru Dr. Angela Dcukworth. It feels a little bit like I’m telling you “SERENITY NOW!” from one of the greatest shows of the ‘90s, Seinfeld. Some of you may recall that Jerry Stiller, Frank Costanza of Seinfeld, explained that all you need to do is shout “SERENITY NOW!” and serenity will be yours.
In light of the pandemic, people worldwide are being asked not to venture further - rather, we’ve been asked to stay in! These restrictions on our adventures have been a significant challenge. Without the ability to venture out, we have been pushed to venture further in different ways.