Dear Friend of JP:
March became April, and now April is about to fade into May. As much as we all—kids, parents, staff members—would like to be back at JP, that’s not, for now, going to happen. A full-page article in Sunday’s New York Times (p.17), “5 Ways to Monitor the Pandemic in the U.S.,” had ten graphs, four of which included the “Trenton-Princeton” statistical area (which stretches beyond Trenton and Princeton).
One pair of graphs, “Where It’s Worst Now,” cited the T-P area as being ninth in the nation—not just in NJ; in the nation!—with the most cases per 1,000 people in the past two weeks and tenth in the nation with the most deaths per 1,000 people in the past two weeks. (The note in the graph indicated that, for this area, the statistics are flattening or declining.)
Another pair of graphs, “The Places Hit Hardest Overall” cited T-P as tenth in the nation in cumulative confirmed cases per 1,000 people—8.09—compared to No.1, Marion, OH (33.24 per 1,000 people) and to No.2, NYC (17.49 per 1,000 people). The graph also cited T-P as ninth in the nation for cumulative confirmed deaths per 1,000 people, at 0.44; NYC, No.1, stands at 1.03.
This is by way of saying that we likely have a long way ahead of us before we can safely return, which is why it’s so important for us to put things into perspective. In particular, I’m referring to our children’s (and our own) social and emotional well-being and mental health.
Please don’t worry about our youngsters’ academics. One superpower of our teachers is to meet our boys and girls where they are and to move them forward.
If, while supervising your children or passing through the room in which they’re participating online in their classroom sessions with our teachers, you’ve overheard what’s transpired, you know the amazing amount of effort, time, creativity, expertise, and care our staff members have invested in our pupils’ learning. It’s been extraordinary!
But, while we’ve been able to help many of our youngsters maintain their skills and even learn some new ones, we recognize that there may be gaps in their understanding. For example, in an in-person classroom setting, teachers can spot a furrowed brow or notice an incorrect answer on a worksheet; in a remote setting, with postage-sized views of our children and an inability to walk among them at their desks, teachers may miss a puzzled look or miss an erroneous comment.
We know this may happen; we’ll address it. Our teachers will do use the same effort, time, creativity, expertise, and care, and more, when we’re back. We’ll assess where our boys and girls are and then carry them forward.
Meanwhile, today, Mon., Apr. 27th, our schools’ superintendent, Steve Cochrane, has convened a Re-Entry Leadership Team to begin to consider how we’ll manage our return to school, what schooling will look like when we’re back, and how we’ll ensure our boys and girls get on track to thrive and soar.
So, for now, yes, please continue to facilitate our youngsters’ participation in their Zoom or Google Meet classes—including their specials—and their completion of their assignments. As well, though, attend to their personal wellness (and to yours!).
Please take time to engage as a family in a read-aloud, in watching a t.v. show, in putting together a 100- or 1,000-piece puzzle, in calling Grandma and Grandpa and aunts, uncles, and cousins, in playing cards or checkers or Candyland or Monopoly, or in repairing or painting something at home. Also, now that the weather is improving, spend time outside gardening with your kids, taking a walk or riding a bike, tossing a ball or jumping rope, or blowing bubbles or drawing with chalk on the pavement. And, of course, give one another some space and time alone, particularly when tempers, as they will, become short.
These are trying times. If you need support or you sense that your child does, please seek help.
Certainly, there are lots of online sources that can assist you or your loved ones to put things in perspective. You can also reach out to your child’s teacher or to our school counselor, Robin Minden, at <firstname.lastname@example.org>. We’ll help.
Finally, please be kind to yourself. This whole experience is a new one for all of us.
If you make a mistake, you make a mistake. We all make them; we’re all human.
“To err is human; to forgive, divine.” After you’ve been human, practice being divine.
Learn from your missteps: Figure out what went wrong and how you can do better next time. It’s part of the growth mindset that we teach our pupils at JP.
And, if you’ve watched the current t.v. documentary about Michael Jordan, you may have caught where he says, "I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed." Failure isn’t a lack of success; if you use it in the right way, it’s the first step towards flourishing.
We’re all in this together is the current mantra. So, if you or your youngster confronts a daunting challenge, please reach out to us, and we’ll work it out with you.
Please stay well, be safe, wash those hands, and know that we’re with you.