MAESA Matters December 2020

Greetings from MAESA.

As we begin the season of Advent, a time of preparation for the coming of our Lord, we find ourselves still in a season of uncertainty amidst the pandemic. Yet, we are able to find hope. Hope in news of a vaccine on the horizon. Hope in the way school communities are displaying resilience. Hope in the promise of a child who came to redeem the world.

This month, as many of our schools work to mark their Advent and Christmas traditions in different but still meaningful ways, we also find hope. Below you can read more about the MAESA video voiced by chaplains giving thanks for those that work in MAESA schools. You can also read a reflection from one of the newest members of MAESA, Kimberly Wagner, Head of School at Christ Church Episcopal Preschool in Delaware. In her reflection, "Why I Teach in an Episcopal School," Kim describes the immediate feeling of support she experienced at one of her very first gatherings with early childhood directors and heads of Episcopal schools. These expressions of love and caring for one another, for school employees and school families, is what has and will sustain the spirit within each of our MAESA schools. There is hope. There is good news. And in this season of Advent we prayerfully await it.

MAESA Chaplains Share "We See You" Video
Last week we shared the video link with our MAESA schools in an e-mail blast prior to Thanksgiving. If you missed it, please watch this 5 minute video today, and share it with your amazing colleagues in thanksgiving and appreciation for all that they are doing!

The idea for this video thank you was born out of the realization that we couldn't gather in worship this fall for the Episcopal schools celebration and service with hundreds of students in Washington, D.C. and in Richmond. We decided to celebrate our schools in a different way by creating a video thank you message from MAESA school chaplains and leaders. They voice examples from their school with the refrain "we see you" in witness to the selfless actions of so many adults who are part of MAESA.

In conjunction with this video we created a MAESA prayer rota at this link, which assigns a week of prayer to each of our MAESA schools. You can pray for each of these MAESA schools during the designated week at your school's chapel service, and also in your daily prayers.

"Why I Teach in an Episcopal School"

Kimberly A. Wagner, Ed. D.
Head of School

Less than a year ago, with our rector, the Rev. Ruth Beresford, I attended an Early Childhood session that gathered Episcopal schools together. During that meeting, greetings were made, hugs were given, bread was broken, and laughter ensued. To an outsider looking in, we may have all looked like old friends, reunited over lunch and stories. As I left, almost everyone in the room reminded me to call them if I needed anything. The thing is, though, that was my first meeting with that group of people, actually with any Episcopal school group, and my first extended visit with Ruth. I was hired to begin service to Christ Church Episcopal Preschool as their head beginning in June 2020, and this meeting was in February. The feeling that I sensed among those people in that meeting was the same feeling I got during my interview process and the same one I have every time I step onto campus. 
I left my previous position to come work at an Episcopal school because of the kinds of people naturally drawn to an Episcopal education. These are people that embrace the values of kindness, inclusivity, and service. These are special people. These people are the reason I have weathered (so far) leading a school during a pandemic. As I sat at my computer and near my phone braced to hear disappointed or disapproving reactions to disheartening news throughout the fall, I instead received notes of praise and thanks. Every request for help is met with several, “I am on it.” Being a Christ Church Episcopal Preschool member does not mean you are a teacher, or a student, or someone’s mom, but a member of a family that stands by one another. 
A sense of family was what I was missing in my previous position. A family who accepts each person for who they are. A family who believes in building each other up, not tearing others down. A family who believes in working together for the betterment of our immediate and extended community. A family who believes it takes a village. A family who welcomed me on day one and continues to support the work we do at Christ Church Episcopal Preschool. I could not be more grateful to work in an Episcopal school, and for the family it provides us all.
Would you or your school like to make a year-end donation to support the work of the Mid-Atlantic Episcopal School Association? MAESA gratefully accepts donations in any amount. Visit the MAESA website and click the donate button, or mail a donation to MAESA 3928 Colonel Ellis Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22304. Thank you!
Early Childhood Video Workshops
Last month we shared several videos created for MAESA members in lieu of the MAESA Early Childhood Educators Conference held each fall. Below is a recap of those video workshop offerings.

Tackling Tough Topics in Morning Meeting - This video workshop was prepared by Erica Thompson, Assistant Head of School for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at St. Patrick's Episcopal Day School. Erica shares how her school's model, called "Who We Are Wednesdays", helps young people find their voice, which is rooted in finding their own identity. This identity work allows students to understand differences in themselves and others and learn to respect one another. 

This video workshop was prepared by Courtney Hundley, a certified mindfulness instructor. Courtney shares information about mindfulness practices to use with students in the classroom, and, along the way, participants will get the chance to engage in mindful self-care exercises for themselves.

MAESA is grateful to Erica and Courtney for volunteering their time to prepare these video workshops. Links to these videos and the keynote address from the MAESA Members Meeting by Dr. Rebecca Resnik, The Science of Resilience in Children, can be found on the Early Childhood Conference page of our website. We encourage you to view and share with your colleagues and hope that they are a valuable resource to you.

MAESA Events in 2021

MAESA 2021 Choral Evensong: Given the restrictions around large worship services MAESA will not be able to welcome hundreds of choristers in MAESA school choirs to Washington National Cathedral to sing Evensong in early 2021. MAESA is working with our host schools, St. Albans School and National Cathedral School, to consider alternative programs this year to take the place of the MAESA Evensong.

MAESA Scholars Fair 2021 We hope to host our annual Scholars Fair in the spring at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Day School in Washington, D.C. This annual scholastic fair for students in 4th-8th grade is a highlight of the year. Our Scholars Fair is always on a Friday in late April and we will keep you posted as we monitor the situation and continue to plan.

MAESA Early Childhood Educators Workshop MAESA will continue to assess the plans to offer the MAESA Early Childhood Educators Workshop in the spring either on-line or in person. Please stay tuned and we will be in touch as our plans develop.
Let us hear from you!
Katherine F. Murphy 
MAESA Executive Director