Unprecedented times reveal our core values, and managing crises reveal our core character. The COVID-19 pandemic may be one of the single most important moments in history to define us as humans. I have found in the past few weeks that the single most important trait we need to survive as a species is empathy.
Empathy, defined as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another, is more important now than ever. The successful ones on the other side of this human crisis, will be the ones who were kind, who listened, who connected, and who could share others fears and feelings in a compassionate way, while also lifting them up.
These trying days have proven that the real heroes in our community are doctors, nurses, emergency care workers, first responders, grocery store clerks, pharmacists and others who run essential businesses. Schools and teachers most definitely included. Although our beautiful riverside campus stands quiet, Kent School is in full swing in an impressive and evolving distance learning plan connecting faculty to students, and students to their classmates, in unexpected and meaningful ways. At Kent School, we have been in gear since March 18, using two built-in snow days on March 16 and 17 to prepare as an employee group to pivot to remote learning.Thus, we have not missed a single day of teaching and learning in our academic calendar. I remain hopeful we will be on campus together sometime in May.
We are living history. The first time that brick and mortar schools worldwide have had to move to 100% distance learning, in a short timeframe, and for an unknown amount of time. Parents and students are anxious, and the best thing we can do is remain empathetic to the needs of our teachers, our students and their families. A smile, a kind and reassuring word, an acknowledgement of the struggle – these are the things that will matter most when this crisis has passed. Yes, continuity of instruction is critical to learning, but continuity of relationships is critical to living. And, relationships thrive and grow with empathy.
Tough times build strong people. Stay empathetic, strong, and healthy, my friends.