May 4, 2021

Hello Friends!

It feels as though we have all been counting down to get to May, a time when our schools are entering the throes of end of year celebrations, capstone projects, AP exams, state and regional final competitions, and any number of other markers that hail the end of the academic year. We have much to celebrate this year.

I do hope that you take a moment during the end of this academic year to reflect on how far we have traveled in the last 12 months. As I look back on the SAIS newsletters and other communications, this time last year many schools were preparing messaging around community members who tested positive for COVID and what the fall might look like (when we really had no idea). SAIS had just launched its Plan Mapping Document and we were playing with examples of de-escalation grids and other tools. If you think back, I hope you appreciate the high wire act that everyone courageously embarked upon, in what felt very much like the dark, while wielding a dim flashlight.

Last week, I had the opportunity to be on a school campus, something I have not done since last year. While it was wonderful to be back in a school, what really leapt out at me is how hard what you have been doing truly is. School campuses are living reminders of the disruption that this year has wrought on people’s lives, and how important and complex it is to keep moving forward despite the very practical and persistent obstacles you are encountering daily. When you add into the mix the challenging tensions of political polarization in an election year as well as the cultural stressors related to addressing diversity, equity, and inclusion challenges in your community, I think it is safe to say that our school leaders and everyone on staff have never been asked to rise to the challenge in quite this way.

Rise to the challenge we did. Do not overlook Jeff Mitchell’s excellent FastStats this month. He delves into what the statistics show us about the effects of the pandemic on this academic year, including on enrollment, tuition, financial aid, and summer programs among other indicators. In short, we have been largely fortunate as an association relative to other regions around the country.

No small part of this outcome is related to the fortitude of the leaders within our schools, driving to persevere in making this school year as “normal” as possible for our students and families, many of which wanted very different things at different times. None of this would have been possible without our teachers and staff being willing to execute on our ever-changing plans and being “all in,” day after day, in some of the most challenging circumstances. As I write this on Teacher Appreciation Day, I can honestly say that I have never appreciated our teachers more.

Please enjoy the celebrations marking the end of this extraordinary academic year and take the time to congratulate yourself and your staff on the ground you gained and the many victories you all achieved.

As always, do not hesitate to let SAIS know if there is anything we can do to help you.