MAESA Matters July 2020


Greetings from MAESA!

This summer in our schools and communities is like no previous summer. Our schools' summer programs, summer camps and summer travel opportunities have all been seriously changed or cancelled all together. Meanwhile, administrators and faculty continue to work through the summer to plan for the eventual re-opening of school. There are some silver linings. Perhaps you have had more time to spend in your neighborhood with family or with friends, or more time outside in nature. Or, maybe you have been able to connect with a friend or colleague by virtue of this Zoom culture that you haven't seen in a while. Whatever your experience, this summer is much different than before.

This feeling of a different season is compounded by the suffering we continue to see with spikes in the Coronavirus and the pain we feel for the racial and societal injustice that our nation continues to reckon with. There is so much more work to do on this front. Our Episcopal schools are in a position of strength to add voices that offer compassion and hope and that demand justice. So many MAESA schools are leading the way, listening and learning about painful experiences of students or alumni in their own schools, and following with action plans for racial justice in their schools and the communities they serve. Following are a few resources shared by the Episcopal Diocese of Washington and the Diocese of Virginia for prayer and literature that maybe be useful to you and your schools. Embrace Race has assembled a list of books that help children think critically about racial inequity. St. Patrick's Episcopal Day School also compiled this list of anti-racist resources for people of all ages. The Diocese of Virginia held a 12-hour Prayer Vigil for Justice, Reconciliation and Peace during the first week of June and here is a link to the materials they offered prayer vigil for racial reconciliation resources

Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move every human heart [and especially the hearts of the people of this land], that barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; that our divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 
(Book of Common Prayer, page 823)

MAESA has been hard at work re-imagining how our meetings, services and conferences will look for 2020-2021. We are poised to hold our Fall Membership Meeting virtually as well as our Episcopal Schools Celebrations if we cannot be together. This may, in fact, increase the participation by those schools or adults in those schools who do not always join our in-person events. We are also surveying our schools to determine the best way to offer professional development for our early childhood practitioners. Please see the information below about our event plans and updates.

Information about the MAESA membership renewal process is being e-mailed to the Heads of School this month, and we hope that all of our schools will renew their membership in MAESA for the 2020-2021 program year. Please complete the  membership form  noting any new or departing personnel for our records. Dues may be paid on-line directly from the MAESA website by visiting  the membership dues page .

"Why I Teach in an Episcopal School" This month MAESA is pleased to welcome three new members to our MAESA Board of Governors, and we asked each of them to share a short reflection about why they serve in Episcopal schools. MAESA welcomes adults or seniors in our Episcopal schools to contribute a reflection each month. P lease contact us at  maesaschools@gmail.com to be included.
Why I Teach in an Episcopal School
Danielle Collins, MAESA Board of Governors
St. Andrew's Episcopal School, Potomac, MD
Lower School Director of Admissions and Registrar
Lower School Diversity co-Coordinator

My parents often laugh when they tell the story of my 4-year-old joy in church when we would arrive at the Lord's Prayer. It was my opportunity to proudly (and loudly) share in a moment with my family and the broader congregation. It reinforced, in my mind, that I was "at home."
When my now-husband (then-boyfriend), found a Communications position for me at St. Andrew's Episcopal School in Potomac, MD, I was cautiously optimistic. Eight years and a few titles later, I am overjoyed. A journalist by trade, I did not envision that my career path would lead me to be a Lower School Director of Admission, where I would work with Preschool-Fifth grade families. Though their needs and perspectives are vastly different, at the core of every conversation, they are seeking joy. Helping them to see the joy that is as a result of how we embody our Episcopal identity, is truly a privilege of mine.
As a parent of two young children, I never take for granted the magnitude of what prospective families are entrusting us with when they begin the admission process. I lean into the process of having them envision not only their child, being a student at St. Andrew's, but they themselves, being members of the community. 
It is not lost on me, how often we talk about how important it is for our students to feel an authentic sense of community within our walls, for them to thrive and find success. 
The truth is, that though I am far removed from my years as a student, the same is true for me. I am encouraged to bring my whole self to a job that I love deeply and that challenges me in the best possible way. I am continually honored to welcome new families into the community. Sweeter yet, I walk my four-year-old son through the doors at St. Andrew's every day, excited to see that his feeling of being "at home" allows him to proudly use his voice and experience the joy that left an indelible mark on me decades ago.

Lori Dembo, MAESA Board of Governors
St. John's Parish Day School, Ellicott City, MD
Head of School

One of the distinctive facets of being an Episcopal School is the dedication to integrate seamlessly a well-rounded academic program with the spiritual formation of its children. As an educator in an Episcopal school we foster the concept that each child is a complete and unique individual and child of God. We have the wonderful opportunity, as well as the solemn responsibility, of guiding each of our children through the day-to-day learning experiences that will help them develop into men and women of honor, with high moral character and compassion for their world. As educators we are attune to the needs of each child and utilize the traditions and liturgies of the Episcopal faith as we go to Chapel each day. We also strive to create a sound and nurturing learning environment where all ideas and thoughts are encouraged and shared so our children will be excited about their classrooms, their community, and their faith. 
Our job as Episcopal teachers, administrators, and community leaders is to foster that spark within every child, nurture it and fuel it and be the catalyst for a lifelong love of learning! I am in awe of all our Episcopal educators that have modeled creativity, stamina, resilience, and dedication to their students. Additionally, they stayed engaged with colleagues, families, and their entire school community during these more recent less than perfect teaching conditions. We all rose to the challenge and pivoted to remote learning with a day’s notice to ensure our students continued to learn and grow every day. We valued staying together as a community and quickly realized we were far stronger together even when we were apart! Community, caring, creativity, and connection define the Episcopal School Educator!

Erica Thompson, MAESA Board of Governors
St. Patrick's Episcopal Day School
Assistant Head of School for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

I teach in an Episcopal School because there are three parts of my life that are pretty important to me and they are education, diversity, and my spiritual life. When I started working in education, independent schools were new to me, and independent Episcopal schools were even newer. I was a product of Chicago Public Schools and so along my career journey, I have often taken pause to ask myself, “what am I doing here, in this setting?” And the answer I keep coming back to is that I am able to make a difference, I am making an impact.
What working in an independent school has allowed me to do as a teacher is allow students of color see themselves reflected in the faculty and administration, it has also allowed White students to see a person of color as someone they respect and care for.   What working at Episcopal school has allowed me to do as a  diversity practitioner is to work closely with chaplains, who have been courageous and open to using the gathering of chapel as a time to push into tough topics like race, ethnicity, gender expression, and sexuality. I have been able to support affinity groups, encourage teachers to lean into uncomfortable conversations, and reexamine the perspectives presented in curriculum and reading material. Following the lead of the Episcopal Church I am able to ground everything that we do in the mission of the school and the doctrine of the church. 
Working at an Episcopal school has allowed me to think more about my own faith and spirituality through engaging in chapel, but more often, through grappling with events of the world and thinking about them with young students. Taking time to pray for and with each other is a powerful way to gather community. I work in this setting to help students grow and develop, but clearly I have done so as well. 
MAESA 2020-2021 Event Updates as of July 2020
MAESA 2020 Fall Membership Meeting 
October 2, 2020 @ 10a.m. hosted with Grace Episcopal School, Kensington, MD
MAESA is pleased to welcome  Dr. Rebecca Resnik , as our keynote speaker at the Annual Members Meeting. Dr. Resnik will speak to us about, “The Science of Resilience in Children & What Schools Can Do to Cultivate It”. MAESA anticipates hosting this meeting virtually and is planning for breakout time in practitioner groups to allow peers to connect with one another too. The meeting is always free of charge, and MAESA will share a registration link later this summer, but please mark your calendar now. We hope that even more adults in your schools will plan to participate this year given that it will be virtual.  We want to thank our sponsor for the luncheon, Southern Teachers , for supporting us again this year.

Dr. Resnik, a psychologist in Bethesda, oversees a thriving practice with two locations and also consults and speaks to professional associations, conferences and schools. She will be talking with our school leaders about the science of resilience in children and what it can teach us. Dr. Resnik will focus on how schools can foster resilience in students through specific aspects of their community culture, through intentional programs they create or by working with parents and students directly to cultivate resilience.

MAESA 2020 Episcopal Schools Celebrations - not just for elementary grades this year!  
This October, it seems unlikely that we will be able to gather hundreds of students traveling in buses from various regions into host churches for our normal services in Richmond and in Washington, D.C. So MAESA is working to plan a virtual worship service and to activate a service-learning component too. MAESA has received an outreach grant from NAES to partially fund a service project this fall creating comfort bags (reusable backpacks) with items like mask, hand sanitizer, notebooks and pens/crayons to give to students in our communities within neighborhood schools, family shelters or after school programs. We hope to coordinate this service project in our schools in conjunction with the Episcopal Schools Celebration and will work with your school chaplains over the coming months to execute this idea. This year for the Episcopal Schools Celebration liturgy we envision offering a pre-recorded service that includes contributions from many more schools than usual, possibly having upper school student voices preaching and asking students of all ages to send us examples of service by sharing images and videos. Using the  Becoming Beloved Community  vision we will invite ALL of our schools, not only the elementary schools, to engage in StorySharing. You can learn more about this on the  National Episcopal Church website . MAESA would also provide supporting materials for chaplains to use in your schools' worship as part of our Episcopal Schools Celebration. It is our hope to ask 3-4 middle school or upper school MAESA students to pre-record (StoryShare) a personal experience related to the Beloved Community commitments: Practicing the Way of Love, Repairing the Breach, Telling the Truth and Proclaiming the Dream. These testimonies could be shared with our schools’ chaplains as material to conduct StorySharing in their schools. Due to the lead time we anticipate for schools to collaborate with us and to help provide the content we want to see in our virtual Episcopal Schools Celebration, we are exploring moving the date to early November and focusing the entire month on expressions of love and service. 

MAESA Early Childhood Educators’ Conference
(Originally planned for Nov 6, 2020 at Washington Episcopal School)
There are a few scenarios that we are exploring for the Early Childhood Educators’ Conference for the 2020-2021 school year. The MAESA Board and the ECE Conference planning committee have both met to discuss how we will re-imagine our conference for our members if we cannot meet in person in November. MAESA plans to survey our early childhood programs this summer to understand what types of training and delivery mechanisms may be most beneficial. MAESA hopes to offer an evening series of monthly workshops leading up to a culminating conference in 2021. This evening series of events would be open to all members, not only those in early childhood programs, and would cover a variety of topics. There is no doubt MAESA will be offering professional development and training in the upcoming year to our early childhood practitioners. We will continue to communicate with you as plans take shape.  We are still accepting workshop proposals from early childhood educators for the conference at  this link . Given the demands of the last school year, we have extended the period for teachers to offer workshop proposals and encourage you to share this with your faculty.   
Join the MAESA Early Childhood Practitioner's Facebook Group!
MAESA is working with our early childhood cohort (preschool-third grades), and we've begun a private Facebook group in March to facilitate educators' conversation and share information in this unprecedented time. This page can support the exchange of ideas and resources for our schools that are working to teach and engage our youngest learners. We hope this group will continue to be a resource following this pandemic also. If you or a faculty member would like to join please search "MAESA Early Childhood Practitioners" on Facebook and send a request to join the group.

Mark Your Calendar
2020-2021 MAESA Events
Members' Meeting and Luncheon Friday, October 2, 2020 at 10 a.m.  
The MAESA Members' Meeting will be hosted with Grace Episcopal Day School, Kensington, Maryland. We plan to hold the meeting virtually and will share registration details in September.

MAESA Episcopal Schools Day Celebration - Our celebrations and services will be virtual this fall. MAESA will be in communication with your chaplains and heads of school as we create our virtual worship service and work to execute our comfort bags service project planned for November.

MAESA Early Childhood Educators Conference - stay tuned for a new date in the spring of 2021 for our in-person conference. In the meantime MAESA is planning 1-hour on-line workshop sessions to share this fall with our early childhood educators.

MAESA 2021 Choral Evensong Sunday, January 31, 2021  at Washington National Cathedral in partnership with St. Albans School and National Cathedral School.

MAESA Scholars Fair 2021  will be hosted at  St. Patrick’s Episcopal Day School  in Washington, D.C. for the annual scholastic fair for students in 4 th -8 th  grade. Our Scholars Fair is always on a Friday in late April and we will announce the date later this fall.
Let us hear from you!
Katherine F. Murphy 
MAESA Executive Director