As Americans, September 11th will always represent a time when we faced great adversity as a nation, but also as individuals. To me, it will also represent how we demonstrated our ability to respond with resilience and community. In 2001, I was living in the midwest and teaching middle school. When the first plane crashed that morning, I had just started the day with my 8th grade advisory. Administrators began stopping by classrooms, interrupting to whisper sternly and vaguely to teachers about a national emergency, asking us to hold kids in our classrooms and await further instructions. As a very young teacher and new mother, my mind immediately flew to my son who was with a trusted caregiver at that moment, but quickly raced back to the more immediate responsibility I felt to ensure the safety and emotional well-being of my students – no matter what “national emergency” meant or how it might impact my own family.
The start of the 2020-2021 school year has been challenging to say the least, but throughout the work we have done to prepare for teaching and learning in the time of COVID-19, I am reminded of the same feelings and parallels to my own experience during and after 9/11. Feelings of trauma and the loss of normalcy, of routines, of relationships, and of lives.
The parallels of illnesses impacting first responders, and the newfound fear of moving forward and back into normal activities, not knowing if new precautions in place were enough to prevent it from happening again are as palpable now as they were then. Although many were gripped by fear following 9/11, we came together in our communities both locally and nationally to forge ahead safely; to “never forget” and to express gratitude for those serving in our military and as first responders, to support each other in mourning losses and in looking safely to the future.
As we embark on this school year, we know more than ever that CWA is a place to learn and grow, to feel safe and supported, to build empowering relationships, and to move our community forward through opportunities and growth. I reflect with admiration and thanks on the careful planning of our Task Force this summer to provide families with appropriate options driven by creating a safe place for their children to experience active, joyful learning and a sense of belonging. As I now witness first-hand the engaging and robust remote learning happening online and see our lower and middle students returning physically to campus this week, I am in awe.
Throughout this time of national emergency, albeit a different sort from 2001, I continue to feel grateful for many on the front lines. In our school community, it is our faculty and staff and their work in our return to school – ensuring that the children and families of our CWA community are cared for and feel a sense of belonging. The successful process to move remote last spring was significant, but the time invested this summer to improve upon that work, and to then engage in a dual modality this fall wherein we have students both on-campus and learning remotely simultaneously, is beyond tremendous.
This community of educators and leaders have brought us here because it is what is best for students and families in the Charles Wright community. The commitment, the care, and the tenacity of this faculty and staff cannot be sufficiently underscored. They are at the heart of what Charles Wright Academy is and they are all heroes in my eyes. Their selflessness, their care for our community, and their hard work make it possible. They have my admiration, gratitude, and respect.
In this time of disconnection, fear, and adversity – I hope that we can find new ways to stay connected, to name and face our fears together, and to support one another through whatever adversity comes our way. We are all making difficult choices right now with few easy answers. September 11th stands for more than a national emergency that attempted to divide us, but to me – it stands as a reminder of what’s possible in the face of such difficulty.
Please take time to thank those who serve in our military, who serve as first responders, who provide medical services or public health initiatives, or who are providing essential services to keep us moving forward.
Our strength as a community lies in our ability to lift up others, to provide comfort and support to ourselves and each other, to demonstrate gratitude to those heroes who keep us moving ahead, and to face the future with renewed strength.
I am grateful to be a Tarrier and to be on this journey with you – together!