Commentary

Recognizing school heroes through the pandemic

Tue, 06/16/2020 - 8:30am

Whew! The 2020 school year has finally ended and on a positive note. Graduates from each of the schools participated in memorable celebrations marking the end of this chapter of their lives. By any standard, we successfully wrapped up what was a vastly different school year. There are many heroes of the last few months of the school year, and I would like to recognize a few of those groups.

The administrators at each of the schools are all-stars. They led an incredible transformation from traditional classroom education to remote learning in just a few uncertain days. As unprecedented questions bubbled up from their school’s stakeholders, principals answered and addressed each of the issues cooly and effectively. I could not be prouder of them.

I commend teachers for quickly setting up virtual classrooms, effectively using remote learning strategies, and in some cases, turning their homes into small schools. Most importantly, they did all they could to maintain continuity and a presence for their students who were isolated at home and trying to adapt to a much different pedagogy.

Our food service workers are tremendous heroes throughout this pandemic. A small crew of dedicated employees prepared and distributed 500 meals a day for almost three months. Over 30,000 meals for our students went out, so we could be confident that none of our children were hungry when our schools closed. The food service team members deserve a super summer break.

The custodians were superb in initially getting everything ready for the reopening of school. Desks, walls, carpets, lockers, and floors were quickly and professionally scrubbed and cleaned to mitigate the coronavirus impact. When school ended for the rest of the semester, they commenced deep cleaning, painting, and many other housekeeping functions ensuring we are ready in the fall.

Lastly, I commend students for their flexibility and diligence in completing their school work. Not many grownups could imagine what high school would have been like without sports, a prom, hallway discussions with friends, dating, etc. Our students faced incredible challenges but persevered in their studies so they would not lose out on their education. It is quite amazing what many of them accomplished. They mastered the intricacies of remote learning with patience and steadfastness. Well done, students!

Many others accepted the challenges of the last three months. This was a “whole team” effort. From the beginning of the pandemic to the last day of school, the faculty, staff, and students gave us many reasons to be proud of how the school year ended. Thanks to everyone for their support and understanding of the unique issues we faced.

Looking forward to the 2020-2021 school year, we can expect the start of the school year to look much different than any opening in anyone’s memory. Masks, social distancing, potentially more remote learning, staggered starts, and a myriad of other changes we must plan for, will mandate a different school opening than in years past. The commissioner at the Maine Department of Education has stated that she will decide when we start and what school will look like.

There is a lot of uncertainty now, nonetheless, what we can count on in the fall is that the professionals in our schools will do whatever it takes to ensure that our students are safe and that they will receive the best education we can provide.

Have a great and restful summer!