I am overjoyed by the excitement on campus — the return of students for in-person learning, the collective embrace of community life, and the opportunity for parents to reconnect with each other and meet their sons’ teachers face-to-face. By now, I’m sure you feel things are much more “normal” than in recent memory. Returning to campus has been significant in so many ways.
“For some organizations, near-term survival is the only agenda item. Others are peering through the fog of uncertainty, thinking about how to position themselves once the crisis has passed and things return to normal. The question is, ‘What will normal look like?’ While no one can say how long the crisis will last, what we find on the other side will not look like the normal of recent years.” This perspective was shared by former McKinsey managing partner Ian Davis in 2009 following the last global financial crisis. While many current Crescent students were not even born at that time, his words are especially true today and pose a unique forewarning to the reality we (and all schools) are currently facing.
In life, we are often faced with big choices. Where will I attend school? What will I study? Who will I love? How will my life’s work align with my values? Schools, too, face tough choices when they enter into strategic planning. Choices have consequences. They are often hard, especially when choosing between good options.
“When do you think things will go back to normal?” asked a prospective parent in a recent conversation about a Crescent School education. “I’m looking for some assurance that my son will enjoy a regular school experience.” As I listened and empathized as a parent myself, I was conscious of the tension between what was in my head and my heart. Emotionally, I know that kids need to experience school in a predictable and sustained manner; cognitively, I also know there are no guarantees in life.
Lately, I have been thinking a lot about what I have learned from the pandemic, particularly in my role as Head of School. I don’t mean to imply that the pandemic is behind us—I have accepted that COVID-19 will be with us for some time. That said, I am optimistic that we are entering a new phase where we are learning to live with, rather than fear, the virus. Whether we are in the deep throes of case management or adjusting to an endemic state, the pandemic continues to change us in ways I hope make us better, more fully human. Here are three things the pandemic has taught me.