June 2021 Thank You
Dear Trinity Families,
Our Grade 5 students are a sunrise away from their Graduation from Trinity. I imagine this truly remarkable class of students at home right now, dinner conversation complete, making sure their graduation clothes are ready to go, speeches being read aloud or silently, punctuated by periods of reflection before sleeping.
At the end of a typical school year, there are typical expressions of gratitude, appreciation, regards and acknowledgements. The end of an academic year is, indeed, a time of reflection – whether it be as students, teachers, parents, grandparents, caregivers, administrators, board members, clergy – we all end the year differently than we started the year. There are things we are particularly appreciative of and perhaps areas we encounter disappointment. At any rate and at the end of a typical year, we are appreciative.
However, this 2020 – 2021 has been far from typical. 2020 – 2021 has been extraordinary. To say we end the year in a changed state from the beginning of the year would, I believe, be the definition of an understatement. And I don’t remember a time, because I don’t think there has been one in my 37 years in education, I’ve ever felt so grateful. The school year, in my mind, cannot end without noting gratitude specific for this year.
Thank You to the Students of Trinity
While the students of Trinity may not fully understand the context in which they attended school this year, it was undoubtedly one in which they could never imagine. While there are tangible and observable changes the students couldn’t miss – face coverings, designated play areas, never interacting with other classes, virtual Chapel, outside classrooms, attempting to keep a social distance – to me what I am most appreciative of is how the students handled what is likely the unconscious or abstract elements of a global pandemic. The way they handled the less conscious stress from hearing news in the media, parents and teachers that may have been occupied with all kinds of Covid protocols, lack of playdates, inability to see extended family, just the whole pandemic ethos. I mean, if you’re of an elementary school age, there’s only so much you can understand and internalize. I couldn’t be more grateful for our students – for their navigation of the pandemic and for giving everyone else a focus and purpose. Trinity School students are the reason the school exists.
Thank You to the Faculty and Staff of Trinity
While we are all professionals called upon to be the first responders in education, it cannot be overstated the commitment the faculty and staff made at Trinity this year. What I am most appreciative of is the sacrifices our faculty and staff made and always put the children first – even if it meant the challenge would be more complex. The teachers at Trinity didn’t ask for half a day in person and the other half remote. They didn’t ask for alternate days or weeks of in person learning. They didn’t ask for 4 days in person and 1 day of asynchronous so they could have a day of prep. They took on all day, every day, all students knowing there would be significant challenges. Challenges that included the impact of classroom dynamics as their students were landlocked to certain areas with the exact same group every minute of every day. A challenge included missing the sense of collaboration because we couldn’t meet as a faculty and staff together and we were occupied with Covid protocols. A challenge included having your own children or family members remaining at home, with you not there, as you made a commitment to Trinity School. Thank you to Sue Krishna and Katy Roybal as Lower Campus Directors and Colette McWilliams as the Upper Campus Director and all the faculty and staff for rising and overcoming the challenge.
Thank You to the Parents and Caregivers
Much of the success this year was dependent on the consistent vigilance of Trinity parents and caretakers to keep our students healthy and safe. For the academic year, Trinity administered approximately 1,000 monthly Baseline Covid Tests and there was not a single positive test from our on campus testing. Not one positive test. We had close contacts. We had indirect contacts. We had quarantines. But not one positive test. This doesn’t happen by accident. Thank you to the parents and caregivers for enduring distance learning. Some children really thrive in distance learning. And many do not – it is extremely difficult. It’s indisputable that learning is a social process. Distance learning does not allow that social process to develop. Thank you parents and caregivers for the patience and grace you provided the school. When nerves are frayed, patience and grace are sometimes in short supply. Thank you parents and caregivers for all you did for your children and our school, individually and collectively.
Thank You to the TPA
The Trinity Parent Association was heroic in their efforts this year. In many ways, the TPA was the glue that held the community together – although it may not be readily apparent. But think about it for a minute. At regular intervals, at key times in the year, there were essential events that bound the community. The Back to School BBQ, the Halloween Carnival, Christmas Craft Fair, Faculty and Staff Appreciation, Memory Books, Fun Day, and the Benefit all come to mind. Room Parents didn’t miss a step. The fact is the student experience is substantively different without the TPA. Thank you to Johanna Mahal for being the lighthouse as we were all navigating the pandemic and looking for a source of how to navigate it as a community. What Johanna did, which can’t be overstated, is she never let that lighthouse go dim – it shone all year. And when it was foggy, it shone even brighter. Johanna, an educator herself, understood the nuance and expertise needed to lead the community. Thank you to the TPA, Johanna and her team for their optimism, good will and real planning.
Thank You to the Board of Trustees
Behind the scenes, the Board of Trustees has the fiduciary responsibility for the long term sustainability of the school. In a year as remarkable as 2020 – 2021, this was never as important. The Board had to be sure the school was making prudent and informed decisions to ensure the health and safety of the community – or otherwise jeopardize the sustainability of Trinity. This is significant. The Board must exercise their fiduciary responsibility – and they did. Furthermore, the Board did what few other independent schools dared to do in starting the Strategic Plan process involving work in strategic marketing and enrollment, mission and purpose, value proposition, strategic financial planning, philanthropy, governance and diversity/equity/inclusion. I am grateful for the steadfast and expert leadership of Michelle Swenson (parent of a Trinity graduate). Michelle was unflinching in keeping the school and the 15 other trustees accountable in their roles.
Thank You to the Clergy and Leadership at St. Bede’s and Trinity Churches
In a year when the preschool expanded and alterations had to be made to all areas of both campuses, the leadership at St. Bede’s and Trinity churches collaborated and supported the pathways of the school. This was at a time when the churches couldn’t be open – but the school could. While the school made some missteps the leadership was patient and forgiving. Thank you to Reverend Dan Spors of St. Bede’s for being a practical presence on our Upper Campus and being a role model for our students at Chapel and beyond. Thank you to Reverend Rob Voyle for his presence on our Lower Campus and leading Chapel.
As we head into the summer and plan for the fall, my gratitude for this year is different than any other year. While we were apart, we were together. We all stepped up. We laughed, we were kept awake at night, we reflected, we appreciated, we grieved, we learned.
See you in the morning, Grade 5 and thank you, everyone.