I was listening to NPR this morning and found myself thinking about just how lucky I am; how lucky we, the Solebury community, are at this moment.
An odd thought at first blush, I agree. But there were two stories that drove home this feeling and reminded me that perspective is a valued traveling companion.
I spend most of my day worried. I worry about you, my students and my families. I worry about our faculty and staff. I worry about the financial health of my school, of my families, of our country, and of the world. I go to sleep worried, and I wake up worried. (To be clear, that’s not a wholly different thing for me, or for most Heads of School, during times when there is no worldwide pandemic. I think it's the first bullet on the position description for any Head of School: ‘your job is to worry about everything.’)
What I do not spend my time worried about is the food security of my students, at least the great majority of them. The NPR story included an interview with the principal of a Philadelphia school. The reporter asked him how much he was worried about the education his students were missing. (The context: it was just announced that Philadelphia public schools hope to begin distance learning by mid-April.) The principal's response brought into high relief how different our respective worries are in this moment as we both try to lead our institutions. The essence of his response: I don’t have the luxury of worrying about students missing math or English; seventy percent of my students will go hungry if we can’t get them the food they rely on here at school.
The story that followed was an interview with an emergency room doctor in New York City. Toward the end of the interview, the reporter asked him just how worried is he. His response was enlightening. The ER doctor said we will get through this. In the end, we will get through this. He then said, what I’m most worried about are the people in developing countries who don’t have access to health care and trained ER doctors and factories like GM that can pivot on a dime and begin making ventilators and masks. What’s going to happen to the people in those countries?
As I stood in the circle this morning, talking with our students and hearing positive reports from their experiences from day one, I found myself reflecting on the experiences of the principal from Philadelphia and the people in still developing countries. I found myself feeling pretty fortunate, pretty lucky.
I found myself thinking about perspective.