A few years ago I was part of a year long class with 30 Ohio Superintendents put on by the Center for Creative Leadership. In one of our sessions, we took personality tests and then without names the results were posted on the wall. From left to right went the most introverted in our class of 30 to the most extroverted. When the instructor placed the results on the wall one result was far to the left of all the others. I thought to myself, “that person is in trouble.” Of course, when the instructor revealed the results, that person was me.
Naturally, I am an introvert (I’m also a Gen Xer) and thus I joke that I’ve been training for social distancing my whole life. Even with my natural tendencies, the last two weeks have been very strange. Ms. Adrean, our Chief Academic Officer, captured my thoughts last week when she wrote, “I keep saying to myself and others, “This seems so surreal.” And then I remember, no, it’s real! And although our present reality comes with uncertainty, we will overcome many obstacles by coming together (virtually, of course!) and supporting each other – for our students, our families, and each other.”
We’re all living in surreal times but my hope is that at the end of week two of this closure you are doing well. My hope is that you, your children, and your family are healthy. My hope is that you are able to focus on the most important things during this time, namely the well-being of your family and those you care most about.
With that hope, also comes uncertainty and concern. All families in our community are being directly affected by the seismic shifts that have occurred over the past three weeks. There are parents that are not sure where their next paycheck is coming from. There are families that are grappling with caring for a medically fragile loved one and the potential risk that person is in. There are neighbors caring for first-responder children while trying to support their older children with remote learning. We are in the midst of an event that none of us have ever seen in our lifetimes. For me personally, many within our school community have shared their individual circumstance. They have shared their angst, fear, and the uncertainty this event has created in their lives. Even within that uncertainty, they have also shared their solidarity, hope, and faith in each other.
If you have listened to Governor Mike DeWine’s daily press conferences over the last several weeks, every day he reinforces that we are in this together. I want to echo these sentiments. In Worthington Schools, we are here to support our students, families, and community during this extended closure and public health event.
As we navigate this together, to ensure our educational mission, there are several services that we will continue to provide our students and families. Over the course of the closure we will continue to provide food services, remote learning, mental health/well-being support, and technology support. We will provide regular updates as we have new information to allow families to plan and adjust. These services are needed to continue to support our students, families, and community. We want our families to know these structures are in place and will continue to be throughout this closure.
Additionally, we know that we cannot plan for every individual circumstance. We will continue to be flexible and adaptable to meet individual needs as they arise. Our most important concern is the care, welfare, and well-being of our families. Please reach out to our district leadership, principals, school counselors, or teachers. We will do our best to meet your needs as soon as possible.
-Trent Bowers, Superintendent