Mariandl Hufford, President and Head of School, reflects on online learning.
Online working and learning have temporarily slowed with the arrival of Spring Break, but its timing has only highlighted how different things truly are. There is no vacation travel this week, no memories made in exotic destinations, or reuniting with family in a distant place. Instead, we are, so I hope, rediscovering what is remarkable in our own homes and neighborhoods and are finding solace in the familiar.
Technology, long blamed as a source of alienation in our modern world, is now, ironically, a reliable tool to stay connected with friends and family. I am finding this to be true as well when I peruse my inbox and read the messages sent to me by parents, teachers, and trustees.
I never cease to be amazed by our Spartan community. In this, my inaugural year as Head of School, I have had many occasions to feel great joy and pride in who we are. However, and I have said this before, it is in times of crisis that a community reveals itself. And I am not surprised that everything I believed to be true about Miami Country Day is confirmed through the actions of members of our community.
· Our Parent Association is supplying snacks for our essential personnel each Monday, letting them know in this way how valued they are.
· Teachers have gathered through informal zoom meetings to share resources and tools they have discovered and have found useful. These remarkable professionals have taken on performing their duties in a fundamentally different way without missing a beat, displaying the commitment I have come to admire in my MCDS colleagues.
· Administrators have collaborated practically around the clock to shift our operations to an online world. Without their willingness to plan, execute, field questions, and quell worries, we would not be ready to implement best-in-class teaching and learning in the virtual domain.
And parents and teachers, the notes you have written me have been just what I needed. They have confirmed for me that this is an extraordinary place and that, even though these are difficult times, you are finding joy. In your notes, you have spoken of the rediscovered beauty of a sunrise and the warmth of smiles when you run into each other in the few places we can still go. You have shared an article that provided insight or solace and have extended support in myriad ways.
Last week, I participated in a virtual roundtable discussion with roughly 100 heads of school across the country to discuss the current crisis. One head whose school, because of its geography, was a few weeks ahead of most of us in terms of campus closure and shifting to online learning, told us that our communities would pull together during this time and that it was this community strength that would see us through.
In less than a week, I have already seen how true this is.