MAESA Matters January 2022


Greetings from MAESA!

Father in heaven, who at the baptism of Jesus in the River
Jordan proclaimed him your beloved Son and anointed him
with the Holy Spirit: Grant that all who are baptized into his
Name may keep the covenant they have made, and boldly
confess him as Lord and Savior; who with you and the Holy
Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen. (BCP p. 214)

As we begin 2022, MAESA embarks on a journey to document and celebrate our history, and we are anxious to hear from the schools and leaders that have contributed to our shared past! As we look to the future, MAESA is proud to celebrate more than 20 years of service to our schools.

We would love to hear from you if you have memories, images or stories to share from your time with MAESA. Or, perhaps you have a retired colleague that may memories to share. Please contact us if you would like contribute memories or have someone to recommend who would. You can email maesaschools@gmail.com or use this form. Throughout the year MAESA will share reflections from these people in our newsletter as we mark the celebration of more than twenty years of association!

January started off with more uncertainty about the pandemic because of the Omicron variant coupled with the challenges of a big snow storm for many in the Mid-Atlantic region. These dual challenges have, understandably, tried the patience and frayed the nerves of school administrators, teachers, parents, and, last but not least, students. In the midst of some of this frustration, literally in the midst of it on Interstate 95, an act of kindness last week shone through as a reminder that our natural instinct is to help each other and that love wins. It went viral. You may have seen on Facebook a post about a stranded motorist who noticed a bread truck on the road near her. A 23-year-old woman from Maryland had an idea that a Schmidt Baking Company truck might be able to share its load of food with the cold and hungry people stranded with her on the interstate. She contacted the corporation on social media. Within 20 minutes the CEO called her back, had her take her cell phone to their truck driver on the road, and they were able to hand out loaves of bread to people in more than 50 cars that cold day. Stories like this remind us that we are all connected and can always find ways to support each other.

In the January edition of "Why I Teach in an Episcopal School" we hear from Cyndy Weldon-Lassiter, Head of School at St. Andrew's School in Richmond, Virginia. For twelve years she has served this-127 year-old institution that offers 100% tuition free education to K-5th grade students. Cyndy shares the transformational work they have done with the support of their board, faculty and parents of adopting an extended year, extended day calendar with 1400 hours in school, compared to the traditional 990 hours, in a time where much of the school year was virtual. Read more about St. Andrew's School below in Cyndy Weldon-Lassiter's reflection.

MAESA 2022 Spring & Fall Events
Mark Your Calendars Now
MAESA Choral Evensong, February 6, 2022: MAESA ended 2021 looking toward the Feb. 6, 2022 Choral Evensong at Washington National Cathedral. Ten upper school choirs have been rehearsing the repertoire and planning to participate as part of the MAESA combined choirs at the Cathedral Choral Evensong. As we return to school this month we are all closely monitoring conditions as we plan to gather for the MAESA Choral Evensong, and are in communication with the choral directors. MAESA will welcome The Reverend Sean Cavanaugh, Head Chaplain at St. Stephen's and St. Agnes School, in Alexandria, Virginia as our homilist.

MAESA Scholars' Fair April 29, 2022 hosted with St. Patrick's Episcopal Day School: Earlier this month MAESA shared the 2022 Scholars Fair event rubrics and guidelines with our elementary schools that bring 4th - 8th grade students together for scholastic competition and fellowship. We are excited to introduce a new category, the Math Challenge. Event guidelines can be found on the MAESA Scholars Fair page of our website. We know that many elementary school students look to this scholastic event as a way to build skills and demonstrate their knowledge as they develop as students and leaders. We are working hard to provide a great experience this year, and are working with our schools to plan a responsible and successful gathering. Event registration will open in March. Please direct any questions to maesaschools@gmail.com

MAESA Fall Annual Membership Meeting & Luncheon, September 30, 2022 at the Bishop John T. Walker School for Boys: Save the date and mark your calendars! MAESA welcomes our keynote speaker, Executive Director-Elect of NAES, The Rev. David A. Madison, D. Min. MAESA is excited to partner with our host, the Bishop Walker School and Head of School Michael Molina, for our 2022 Annual Meeting where we will have the chance to showcase the outstanding work taking place in this school. Please plan to join us and bring your colleagues!

MAESA Episcopal Schools Celebration and Service, Tuesday, October 4, 2022 at Washington National Cathedral: Each fall MAESA welcomes elementary school students to worship together and celebrate the blessing of being in an Episcopal school community. Please note date Oct. 4th is a Tuesday, rather than Wednesday when Yom Kippur is observed. MAESA is working to plan the Episcopal Schools Celebration and Service, in Richmond, Va. for October 2022 also, and will share the date as soon as it is confirmed.

MAESA Early Childhood Educators' Conference November 4, 2022 at Washington Episcopal School: Please add this date to your school's calendar for early childhood professional development and training. This year MAESA will welcome a number of developmental professionals to offer workshops in various tracks including social, emotional and spiritual development, emerging literacy and math fluency, early intervention and more. If you have a recommendation for a workshop presenter that has spoken at your school you'd like to share, please email us maesaschools@gmail.com.

"Why I Teach In An Episcopal School"
By Dr. Cyndy Weldon-Lassiter, Head of School
St. Andrew's School, Richmond, Virginia

When the clock struck midnight and ushered in a new year, I was keenly aware 2022 marked my twelfth year as Head of St. Andrew’s School. Sitting alongside a church of the same name, our school has been a pillar in the Richmond community for 127 years. I am incredibly honored to lead one of the oldest Episcopal schools with the unique and noble mission of offering a tuition-free education to 100% of our K-5 students based on family household income. I am especially proud of all we have accomplished in the past decade, especially with a focus on equitable practices.

With the encouragement and support of the Board of Directors, we implemented a bold strategic plan that set our school on a trajectory for success, implementing several mission-critical projects and programs. One major investment included the development and implementation of our extended year, extended day calendar with 1400 hours in school, compared to the traditional 990 hours required by our state. Our faculty and staff made a commitment to a whole child education, and we named six key fundamentals as our priorities: the academic program; social and emotional learning; wellness and nutrition; visual and performing arts; family engagement; and graduate support.

Just this past year, alone, I look back and reflect on the previous school year where we lived our mission through a predominantly virtual format, spending 64% of the school year in a distance learning model. Yet, in a full year of COVID regulations and planning considerations, we were given a tremendous gift: the opportunity to name what we hold sacred, what we deem important and are committed to preserving both now and into the future; something we know is a vital part of our school culture. 

Relationships: the opportunity to strengthen connections among our school colleagues, with our students, and with our students’ families. Instead of building community as a whole school, our distance learning model invited individuals and small teams to connect, support, and make an impact in not only a professional manner, but on a more personal level, as well. We were, virtually, invited into one another’s homes through computer screens and provided the opportunity to learn more about each other, truly connecting in new and vitally important ways.

Embedded in our mission and founding as an Episcopal school is the tenet that we are all worthy of love and respect. This is the work we do every day, by helping our community feel valued individually and collectively, and reminding them in as many ways as possible that our connections and relationships matter.

Leading an Episcopal school focused on developing students who are whole and healthy in mind and spirit means fostering an environment of inclusiveness and belonging. It is essential that we educate ourselves on how to speak up and show up to create a more respectful and just society. By creating safe spaces for open dialogue, we enable our community to have courageous conversations about local and national issues impacting our community and to prepare each of us to better serve as "upstanders" rather than be "bystanders".

We are guided by a whole child approach to education and are committed to equity, and over the past twelve years, we have looked closely at equitable practices that not only amplify but make space for the voices of our youngest students and the adults in our community. A highlight of my day is seeing our students engaged in hands-on projects that are meaningful and relevant to their everyday lives- like testing the water from our water fountain against popular bottled brands or assessing how fresh fruit should be served to increase consumption and decrease food waste. Engagement with our students’ families goes far beyond attending two conferences a year. It means family members are sitting on panels when we hire new faculty and staff. Family members are, for the first time in our school’s history, joining the Board of Directors, and they are taking on key roles at Admissions events. The majority of applicants to our school are through word of mouth from our families, and there can be no greater testament to our work than that.

There is no finish line, nor should there be, when it comes to assessing and refining equitable and inclusive practices, and as a leader and Head of an Episcopal school, I recognize how essential my role is in keeping such efforts at the forefront of our daily work. At the same time, I understand St. Andrew’s is not alone in our efforts. We have access to like-minded institutions eager to extend collegiality and resources to further our mission, and as MAESA celebrates its 20th anniversary, our school is witness to MAESA’s longevity and how it has enhanced opportunities for fellowship by connecting leaders, students and schools. For more than a decade now, the mission of St. Andrew’s School has been my drive, and I am honored to have the opportunity to work alongside my colleagues, and I am immensely grateful to our Episcopal partners for their leadership and guidance.
The Mission of MAESA

The purpose of the Mid-Atlantic Episcopal Schools Association (MAESA) is to strengthen the community, enhance the missions and promote the witness of Episcopal schools in the Mid-Atlantic region.

We seek to do this by providing opportunities for Heads of school, administrators and chaplains to meet regularly with colleagues from other Episcopal schools to explore areas of common concern and interest.

We also promote programs for teachers and students which enhance learning in our schools and encourage service to our surrounding communities.

Finally, in association with the National Association of Episcopal Schools (NAES), we advocate for our needs as schools within our several diocese and within the National Church.
Let us hear from you!
Katherine F. Murphy 
MAESA Executive Director