I want to first start off with a great big thank you. This year has been different with many changes as a result of the COVD-19 world we find ourselves. Despite those changes, all of you have handled this new school year with remarkable patience and understanding.
Perhaps taking a look into some of the processes of setting up an in-person TCA school year from my perspective on the elementary campus, will help you appreciate the school year even more. Once we determined we could hold school, the big question was how can we still be TCA despite all the restraints? The teachers went to work reorganizing their classrooms to meet physical distancing safety requirements. Administratively, we worked to find solutions and alternative approaches that maintained who we are as a school by fulfilling our desire for not only an in-person school year but an in-person school year with some of the extras that helps to make school fun and safe.
The first result of this effort was the ability to have Meet the Teacher with scheduled appointment times over a two day period. In the elementary, we then retooled car pool to allow us to as effectively and efficiently as possible to take temperatures and get the students into school and then later to get the students out to their parents at the end of school.
After carefully looking at the church worship center we use for chapel, we were able to keep our chapel program with seating changes to keep the students safe while running the same schedule as last year. Our Enrichment Programs all became mobile with the exception of PE again providing a safe environment for the students with minimal contact with other classes and students in the halls.
Thankfully, we had a new early childhood playground that allowed us to schedule different classes at the same time. Then, one of our creative teachers proposed dividing the large playground in two, allowing the same grade level on the large playground while we had our youngest Eagles on the new playground. Genius!
Lunch was one of the biggest challenges. Most schools that began the year meeting in-person made lunch a “classroom only” event each and every day. Most also cancelled their version of our Lunch Out program. Our lunchroom staff, however, worked hard and creatively to keep a sense of normalcy to lunch, however. They realized our large tables could split into two tables, allowing us to have a grade level at lunch and be physically distanced while they ate their lunch. By alternating grades in the cafeteria, we gave students and teachers an out-of-the-classroom lunch experience a few times each week, and through careful planning with our Lunch Out vendors, we were able to safely continue the Lunch Out program.
And then there was Eagle Dash! Our Parent Teacher Fellowship partnered with Apex Leadership to develop a safe approach allowing TCA to hold this fun event which is also the PTF’s biggest fundraiser. By having two tracks outside and with just a few volunteers to assist the Apex people, we ran a very successful Eagle Dash which met the PTF’s budgeted needs for the year! We still had prizes and fun along the way.
Now, we are focused on Grandparents and Special Friends Day. Once again, despite the limitations, we are able hopefully to provide a memorable experience through letters, cards and pictures with a Zoom classroom presentation and video to Grandparents and Special Friends worldwide.
This year has been challenging. It has been wearying. The Bible addresses this in Isaiah 40:31:
but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.
The context is the fact that even though Israel received comfort and care from the Lord, there was still a time of struggle ahead that they would experience. They needed to remember that when they struggle and face hardships, the Lord is still there for those who wait upon him.
Like Israel, we have sought and found the Lord’s comfort. Although He is faithful, we must recognize that this trial that we are all experiencing may not be over yet. We must hold on to the comfort we have experienced for He is still faithful and we will be able to carry on through His strength.
Thank you for walking with us through the start of this school year. May the Lord continue to bless you and your family in the coming months.
Dr. Newby- TCA Elementary Principal