It has been truly difficult to connect with the celebratory nature that normally accompanies the end of a school year in the context of a global pandemic that has deeply impacted people’s health and livelihoods. Particularly, as it has also highlighted and exacerbated the deep divisions, inequities, and injustices that exist in our society and the tremendous amount of work we still need to do to address them. Yet the resilience that people have demonstrated in these extremely challenging circumstances - whether they are first responders, “essential” workers, protesters, or regular people watching out for each other - has to guide our understanding that it is precisely through crisis that change and innovation emerge. As Maverick and I both told our graduates at last Thursday’s Class of 2020 celebration, it is through these challenging moments that we find out what we are made of, and it is through them that we change and grow.
This has been overwhelmingly evident if I look at the way our community has responded to the events of the past few months. The ability of our faculty and staff, students and families, to quickly pivot online and maintain the deeply engaging, student-centered nature of a Drew education has been truly inspiring. As has the way our community continued to rally around each other, to push each other through challenging conversations and support each other through compassion and care.
All of this was fully on display on the screens where our graduates received their diplomas and showed the deep lessons they have learned at Drew in the past 4 years. It was one of the more touching and emotional ceremonies that I have witnessed in over 20 years in education.
Before we look ahead to how we are approaching our planning for next year, let’s first celebrate some of our notable accomplishments from this past year including a number of “firsts”:
Our first Equity SEL class for the 10th grade - a weekly class where students learned about their own identity and identities of their classmates, building on the foundation of inclusion and celebrating the diversity of our student body while examining systemic racism in our broader society.
• The launch of The Drew Daily - a daily community newsletter from
the Dean of Students and the Dean of Equity for students which shared community happenings, resources, and activities to keep students and families connected during quarantine.
It is clear that as we close this year in a very different manner than we have in the past, we can expect a very different summer, as well as a very different year ahead. The challenges will be many but I am heartened by the strength of this community and our ability to hold space for each other and continue to create fertile ground for our students to push themselves and grow.
To this end we have created special programming for the summer in our “Summer Lab.” These creative, short, hands-on courses are vivid examples of our school’s commitment to experiential learning and should provide opportunities for connection and learning over the summer.
We have also been in deep conversation with our Board of Trustees, the SF Department of Public Health, peer schools, and our leadership team about what next year will look like.
Although we are still awaiting formal guidelines for schools from public health officials that will allow us to finalize our plans and communicate them to you, we recognize that the rapidly changing nature of the situation we are living will require us to be flexible and nimble late into the summer and into next school year.
Whatever shape our plans take, they will continue to prioritize our community’s health and safety, while delivering engaged, deep learning, in a supportive community environment that are the hallmarks of a Drew education.
To this end, we plan on building on our experience these past few months to continue to innovate and grow to shape an even more engaging and inspiring educational environment both within and beyond the traditional classroom and campus setting.
In the weeks ahead, you will be receiving regular updates as our plans take shape--the first of which you will be receiving next week.
I wish you all a wonderful summer, however you choose to spend it.
Head of School