By Mary Cognata, Head of Miriam School
As I think about all that has happened in the last year, I remember two conversations with one parent. The first came at the beginning of the pandemic and remote learning when she emailed me to ask if I thought the kids would come back to school before the end of the year. She said she hoped so, because in her words, “A mama’s got to have hope.” And then, just a few weeks ago when the middle school had to close for two weeks for a positive case, she wrote to me again saying, “Don’t worry! This is just a blip – we are doing so good.”
And, we are – because these teachers, staff, parents and kids did what has never been done before, and they are ALL my heroes. You won’t be surprised that I am emotional writing this. I have been thinking about the year so much recently as we arrived at the anniversary of March 13th – that infamous day when it was announced that the world was stopping for everyone so we could ‘flatten the curve.’ We had no idea what we were doing, what zoom was, how to do OT, SL/P or special education remotely. We had to jump in, revise, regroup, and dig deep into new resources and ways to engage our children. All in a scary, scary time while we were wiping down our groceries and staying glued to news reports of people being sick with this new illness and hearing about so many who did not recover or who had and have long lasting bad effects from Covid-19.
But, the staff at Miriam did what they always do when faced with a challenging situation. They dug in and made magic happen. Those first weeks were 24/7 days and nights. As soon as we were off of zoom with the kids, we were meeting, often late into the night trying to
figure out how to better engage the kids, how to better support the families. Thinking about it now I cannot even believe we did what we did, I don’t know how we made it happen except to say that we don’t give up at Miriam School. On our kids, on each other. We believe so deeply in what we do that we did what we always do – we worked hard and made it happen.
The decision to return to in person learning came easily. My teachers wanted to be back. Our families wanted to return. We all knew it was best for the kids. And, once this decision was made, I became determined that we were going to do everything possible to ensure that we returned safely. These people are amazing humans and I wanted to be darn sure no one got sick on my watch.
We have been hugely successful, even with a few blips. We have had three cohort closures this year. Two were in our middle school program and one in a cohort in our lower school. I am thrilled to say that from the positive cases no one who was exposed to them contracted the virus. I believe this is due to the diligence and the adherence to our mitigation strategies that every single staff member, student and parents have been faithful about carrying out.
We have all become wiser, and kinder and stronger in this time. I tell the staff they’ve had more professional development in a year than they might have in their career. Parents have been so supportive and thoughtful, and our kids – well there are no words to adequately express how proud I am of them. They truly had the most difficult job but they hung in there with us and believed in and trusted us. Even when we were scared ourselves, even when it was hard beyond words. We all did it and have learned so much that will serve us well as we move toward a brighter, better time.