All In: This Together
This is a picture of my grandson, who lives in Albany, N.Y., in his kindergarten class on April 2. He, along with my five other grandchildren, are learning from home in New York, Indiana and Maine. They are experiencing the same change in their school lives as students here in Montgomery County. In fact, this picture could have come from nearly every state across the country. I share this picture of my family with you to illustrate how the world we are in right now is not only a professional experience for me, but also very personal.
My grandchildren are fortunate. They have strong support systems, and, so far, parents who can maintain their incomes. Not all children and families have it so well. For all children, but especially for those who are not so fortunate, our school system personnel are critical. We provide essential learning and services that can dramatically improve their lives at this difficult time.
Last week, I had a chance to talk over Zoom with Damon Monteleone, Todd Stillman and Elizabeth Pierce from Richard Montgomery High School about how their school is working to serve students during these unprecedented times. You can watch our conversation here. Their efforts are reflective of the thoughtful work every school team across our county is engaged in.
I also received a message last week from one of our teachers who wishes to remain anonymous. I want to share it because it is poignant and true.
“This past Monday when I went into Churchill to get some tests that needed grading, I realized as I walked through the mostly vacant school, that the school was just a building now. A shell. It was missing the usual elements of a regular school: noisy kids eating lunch in the hallways; teachers having discussions with kids; and the usual hustle and bustle of school. In a sense, it had lost its soul, what was important to making it a regular school. We don’t have that building anymore. And that’s a big loss to all of us. Most of the kids and the staff are grieving over that loss, myself included.
“But when I can step back, I can see that we all play such a vital role in this international crisis. We can be the one stable part in our kids’ lives. We can be the adult they look to that’s consistent and fair and understanding. We can show them that the building was not really the soul of their learning experience; that the relationships that we have with them is the soul.”
I want to thank all of our MCPS staff for their efforts now and moving forward to ensure the “soul” of the learning experience is not lost for our students. We are facing a challenge, and it is inspiring to see how we are creatively reaching solutions that benefit our students. We will do this for as long as it takes.