MAESA Matters June 2020


Greetings from MAESA!

Many of you have recently completed the academic year while others are in the final week. It is an understatement to say the feelings accompanying the end of school this year are mixed and likely different than ever before. Maybe you are feeling relief that the year is ending given the serious challenges and extensive time spent serving your school this spring. Perhaps you're feeling pride that you did it, and even greater pride that your teams and colleagues did it! There are also feelings of sadness since the congratulations and goodbyes cannot be delivered in person, at least not yet, and then feelings of hopefulness that Phase I of the COVID-19 recovery proceeds successfully as you plan and contingency plan for the 2020-2021 year. Whatever emotions you're experiencing, be gentle with yourself and those around you as everyone works to live into tomorrow.

Right now in our nation we are seeing so much pain and anger. We are heartbroken, fearful and anxious about present injustices and we worry about our future. We are worried about our health, our well-being and our ability to live our best lives as children of God. As Presiding Bishop Curry so crucially reminds us, choosing love is a daily choice, and it is very challenging. The familiar prayer, sometimes called the Peace Prayer and attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, can guide us as we work to live together in love.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy. 

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive, 
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, 
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

MAESA Stewardship Award Nomination Deadline is June 10th

We are seeking nominations for the inaugural MAESA Stewardship Award. Nominations may be submitted via this link. This award honors an adult in your school who has made a mark on your school community. The candidate embodies the qualities that MAESA and our Episcopal schools hold closely: integrity in daily life and work, respect for all people, equity and justice in words and actions, and love and hospitality toward neighbors. MAESA is seeking nominations now and plans to hold a recognition ceremony at our Annual Members Meeting and Luncheon on October 2, 2020. Please follow this link to learn more about the award and to complete the Google form to submit a nomination. This award is open to all school employees and not limited to teachers or administrators. So, cast a wide net when thinking of worthy recipients to be called MAESA Stewards!

A Word About Upcoming MAESA Events
We continue to plan for our MAESA fall events, and are exploring ways to extend and evolve our traditional MAESA gatherings if necessary.

October Episcopal Schools Celebrations: MAESA is exploring ways to expand our Episcopal Schools Celebrations traditionally held in churches with hundreds of young people, to also include a service learning or outreach component in addition to the joyful liturgical services. If we are not able to meet in larger groups by October, MAESA is planning to work with our schools, chaplains and administrators to hold a virtual liturgical service and service leaning initiative for the students. Work is beginning this week, so stay tuned for more details!

MAESA Fall Members Meeting and Luncheon: Please save the date of Friday, October 2, 2020 for the Annual Members Meeting. MAESA will welcome Dr. Rebecca Resnik, who will speak about "The Science of Resilience in Children and What It Can Teach Us". If we are able to gather in groups of 50 or even greater by the fall, we may be able to hold our meeting in person. If not, we have contingency plans to hold a webinar and still create time for our members to gather in breakout groups for networking and engagement.

MAESA Early Childhood Educators Conference: Preschool through 3rd grade school programs and teachers will not want to miss our conference on Friday, Nov. 6, 2020. We are still accepting proposals for workshops from teachers and have extended the deadline through the summer. As the demands of the academic year subside, please consider if you or a colleague can offer a workshop proposal for our conference by using this link . We are prepared to hold our conference workshops virtually, if necessary, and look forward to working with you all.
"Why I Teach in an Episcopal School" This month MAESA is pleased to share a reflection, from the Rev. Sally Slater, Lower School Chaplain at St. Andrew's Episcopal School in Potomac, Md. She describes how she has navigated teaching and leading her lower school students in chapel services the past several months with the support of her school community and also her faith. We'd love to hear from an adult or an upper school student in your school about why they value being at an Episcopal school. Please contact us at  maesaschools@gmail.com to be included.
Why I Teach in an Episcopal School
The Rev. Sally Slater
Chaplain to the Lower School
St. Andrew's Episcopal School, Potomac, MD

My mantra in my six years of ministry as a school chaplain can be summed up in five words: “I will, with God’s help.” I was called to this ministry after serving for many years in my first vocation as an educator.  I assumed, after seminary, that I would serve in a church, but God had other plans. I accepted a call to serve as a Lower School Chaplain, working with students two years old to fifth grade, at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Potomac, MD. As the LS Chaplain, I provide pastoral care to our students, families, faculty and staff, lead weekly chapel services, teach religion to students grades K-5, and coordinate and implement service learning for all students.  

Although I had years of experience as an educator, school chaplaincy involved a lot of firsts. 
Lead weekly chapel services with 35 two- and three-year olds? “I will, with God’s help.” 

Conduct a memorial service for the beloved class Guinea pig? “I will, with God’s help.”

Comfort the parents of the child who had had the beloved Guinea pig at their house the weekend it died?” – I will, with God’s help.” 

Coordinate a chocolate Seder for 120 students, their parents, teachers and school administrators? “I will, with God’s help.” 

And with God’s help, a lot of learning by doing, and the help of people and communities God always seems to put into our lives when we need them, I served God’s people. Before I knew it, I was beginning my sixth year of chaplaincy and looking forward to this school year with additional excitement. For the first time, all of our students would be on one campus. Our youngest learners, those age two years old to second grade, were joining the third through twelfth grade on our larger campus. We were moving into a new lower school building that would house the preschool through fifth grade students. I would no longer have to divide my time between two different campuses. We moved into our beautiful new building in the fall. Student work appeared on the walls and classrooms. Hallways and stairwells buzzed with excitement and learning.  After years of planning, we were one campus.

And then came Covid-19. Almost overnight, we moved from learning in our classrooms to distance learning.  A new set of challenges arose.  I grappled with the many of the same questions that other school chaplains did - How would I do pastoral care via google chat? How could I create meaningful worship with iMovie Chapel? Would it be possible to keep my religion instruction hands on and interactive while not burdening my students’ parents who had their own work to do at home? On our second day of distance learning, I stood in my dining room at two a.m., trying to figure out how to record my Chapel talk for the next day’s service. I prayed that God would give me the words God needed me to say to my community –now scattered, anxious, and exhausted. I felt God’s presence and knew that somehow “I - and my community could do this - with God’s help.”

At St. Andrew’s we say we live our Episcopal identity through five habits of heart and mind: We Love. We Worship. We Welcome. We Serve. We Question. These last three months of distance learning– with God’s help – our St. Andrew’s community has embodied these habits in countless ways: We established weekly individual meetings with parents and students starting that first week so we could check on the emotional and physical health of our students and families and provide support during this challenging time. Our dedicated teachers worked tirelessly with our students to make learning online meaningful, engaging and exciting. Our P.E. teachers converted our annual Field Day events into competitions students could engage in at home. Our design art and design science teachers created assignments that students could do at home using simple household objects. Our administrators provided the materials we needed to teach away from our classrooms. Our tech department worked around the clock to help students, teachers, and parents learn new online platforms and troubleshoot computer problems that arose those first weeks of online learning.

An expanded “chapel team” pitched in as we moved from in person to online worship. An ad hoc “choir” of people showed up to sing hymns which we recorded for use in future chapels. Several people helped answer questions about iMovie and helped to compressed large iMovie files so we could upload weekly chapels. Students, teachers and staff recorded themselves at home singing and playing instruments for the song “Oh Happy Day,” which our gifted music director edited into a single choir for Easter Chapel. Parents helped their children learn and then record the prayers and readings for our weekly chapels.

In the larger Episcopal schools’ community, chaplains in the DC area shared classroom resources for Holy Week, Passover, and Ramadan, and NAES offered weekly zoom Chaplain check-ins. Together, as a St. Andrew’s community, and as a community of Episcopal schools - with God’s help - we all did it. 

After my last class this past Friday, I converted the space that during distant learning had served as the Lower School Chapel back into my guest bedroom. We are living through unprecedented and challenging times. Times that call for courage and strength. I can’t imagine going through them without God and the people God puts into my life, including the St. Andrew’s community and the network of Episcopal Schools. None of us know what school will look like in the fall. I do know that we will face it together, and together “with God’s help,” we will make it through.

St. Martin's in-the-Field School Debuts School Song
by Jamey Hein, Head of School
All MAESA schools have continued to learn, grow and create despite the distance we've experienced. At St. Martin's in-the-Field Episcopal School in Severna Park, Md. music teacher Geoff Rohrbach, had written a new school song this year with his middle school chorus. Our school had never had an original song to call its own. We wanted to created something that wove in our mission of confidence, compassion, and character and would speak to kids. We were set to debut the song on Grandparents & Special Friends Day on March 13, but then the school was closed due to COVID-19. Mr. Rohrbach took the song virtually with his students, working with them at singing it individually over Zoom. He then used a video app and music production software called Reaper to sew together the separate videos so it came together as one fully choreographed song. Listen here
Planning for MAESA Fall 2020 Events
Save the Date! MAESA Annual Members Meeting and Luncheon on October 2, 2020 at 10 a.m. at Grace Episcopal Day School in Kensington, MD. Mark your calendars and invite your school leadership teams to join us. MAESA welcomes Dr. Rebecca Resnik as our keynote speaker. Dr. Resnik is a psychologist who oversees a thriving practice in Bethesda 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 and though working with parents and students to cultivate resilience.  This annual meeting is a valuable time for leaders in our MAESA schools to gather in fellowship and learn from one another. We want to thank our sponsor for the luncheon, Southern Teachers , for supporting us again this year!
2020 MAESA Early Childhood Educators Conference We are extending the deadline for proposals through the summer. The planning committee wants to hear from you! We are soliciting workshop proposals from your talented teachers in preschool through third grades. Consider if you could offer a workshop on an innovation related to distance learning tools or lesson plans, or traditional ideas like STEAM in the classroom or fostering emerging literacy skills; there are many amazing things you are teaching young learners and we would love to hear from you. Please s ubmit a proposal HERE

MAESA is also pleased to announce that Dr. Amelia J. Dyer will welcome and kick-off our Early Childhood Educators Conference on November 6, 2020 . Amy has amassed a wealth of knowledge throughout her career that has spanned teaching in schools, training teachers and ultimately becoming the James Maxwell Professor Emerita of Christian Education and Pastoral Theology at Virginia Theological Seminary. We are excited to have Amy welcome and inspire us!
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 for next year
 2020-2021 MAESA Events
Members' Meeting and Luncheon Friday, October 2, 2020 at 10 a.m.  
The MAESA Members' Meeting will be hosted by Grace Episcopal Day School, 9411 Connecticut Avenue, Kensington, Maryland.

Episcopal Schools Day Celebration, Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, October 7, 2020  at 10 a.m. at Washington National Cathedral hosted in partnership with Beauvoir, the National Cathedral Elementary School.

Episcopal Schools Day Celebration in Richmond, VA on Wednesday October 21, 2020  at 10 a.m. The service location in Richmond will be announced later this summer. MAESA is expanding this celebration to include elementary, middle and upper schools in our central Virginia region and hopes to include a service opportunity in conjunction with the worship service. 

MAESA 2020 Early Childhood Educators Conference Friday, November 6, 2020  hosted by Washington Episcopal School, 5600 Little Falls Parkway, Bethesda, Maryland. This year’s conference will feature our teacher-to-teacher workshops. Please share this link with your teachers to submit a workshop proposal .

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 mid to late April and we will be confirming and announcing the exact date later this spring. 
Let us hear from you!
Katherine F. Murphy 
MAESA Executive Director