|Wisdom from a gentle Fox, in an uncertain time|
Parents, Guardians & Staff,
A little less than a month ago, it seems we lived in a different universe. So many things have changed, including our vocabulary. Words and terms, such as viral load, Zoom Bombing, shelter-in-place, social distancing, flattening-the-curve, N-95 and COVID-19 were only starting to come into our lexicon. Now, these terms are commonplace and they seemingly creep into every news article and conversation.
A little less than a month ago, I remember having a serious conversation with our Chief Financial Officer on the logistics necessary to maintain payroll should our business office need to work remotely for an extended period of time. Soon after, I stood in front of the Hill Country Middle School band to explain how sorry I was to cancel their trip to Indianapolis for a band festival (link to video). Then in an unprecedented move, I asked our technology department and elementary principals to mobilize quickly to send iPads home with elementary students … just in case.
There seems to be so much uncertainty right now. From seemingly mundane questions such as will the restaurant we so enjoyed be there when this is all over? To more important questions like, when will we return to regular school? Or to a more troubling thought of who among our friends, families or acquaintances may fall seriously ill?
And while this is more than likely the most uncertain time all of us have experienced, there is some truth that most of the time, we have a false sense of certainty.
Truthfully, we should operate with a great deal of faith. Faith as we try to take care of ourselves, hopeful we will remain healthy. Faith in our communities, faith in our loved ones and hope that no matter how difficult the challenge, we will be able to maintain our resiliency, for ourselves and for those who depend on us.
A long time ago, when I was a sophomore at the University of Notre Dame, I took a political philosophy course from a professor named Joe Evans. Dr. Evans was an icon on campus; his class was very popular. Sadly, he suffered a significant health event, and while it would not prevent him from continuing to teach, one could see moments where he was struggling.
One of the central texts in the course was "Le Petit Prince," by Antoine Saint-Exupéry. I had never read "The Little Prince," which I assumed was a children’s book, not one worthy of the time of a college student. Boy, was I wrong. Dr. Evans led us deliberately through the text. While at times he struggled physically to articulate the wisdom of the book, we all sensed we were learning something that would stay with us for life. The famous quote from the book comes when the Fox shares a secret with the Little Prince.
That secret being, eloquently in French, “On ne voit bien qu’avec le coeur. L’essential est invisible pour les yeux.” The English translation is in the following image.
There is much that is invisible to our eyes right now. There is much we do not know. But there are some things that continue to be "essential," including … faith, hope, caring, love …
A little less than a month ago, I could not have imagined how grateful and proud I would be of the entire Eanes ISD staff, students and community. Grateful to all the foodservice staff who continue to provide meals to families; to our tech department that mobilized from 0-to-60 in a matter of days to provide support to hundreds of teachers and thousands of families; to our educators who did not complain, adapted and showed tremendous resiliency serving the instructional needs of their students while dealing with the anxiety this pandemic has caused. I am most grateful to the students, who are going through a moment they will never forget - perhaps a chapter that will define their generation and one where so much is still unclear.
On Friday, the district is operationally closed, as it is a school holiday that has been on our calendar all year. Meal distribution, technology assistance and teaching and learning will pause for a day. I want to emphasize the request that we all take the day, find some time to rest, to reflect and to have faith. Yes, this is a difficult time, but this too shall pass.
Be safe and stay well.
Dr. Tom Leonard
Superintendent of Schools