In our Head of School Blog this week, we wanted to do something special, so we requested members of our faculty and staff send us reflections on life in the last year. It was this week last year that we were closing our doors for Spring Break and preparing for the possibility of remote learning as the pandemic settled over the world. Here's what our faculty and staff reflected on.
Dennis Phillips, Head of School
It was March 13, 2020 at 8:00 a.m. when Regis' faculty and staff gathered in the library to conduct an emergency meeting. Our task was to shift our learning environment from in-person student learning to a remote platform. I still remember the feelings of confusion and nervousness as we attempted to do something never done before in the school's history. How will we have enough technology tools to pull this off? How can we support faculty, students and parents into this unknown territory without a clear understanding of what comes next? Will this last a month, and will we be back by Easter? So many feelings of anxiety, fear, frustration, and confusion. Now, a year after that unsettling day, our world is no longer ever the same.
Sarah Davenport, Director of Admissions
What a ride it has been! Sometimes bumpy, sometimes smooth, a lot of times requiring a map [and snacks]. This past year has been one of growth for me, both personally and professionally. It has taught me the true meaning of flexibility. That all things require grace and some require grit. That foresight is key. Clear is kind. That when you think you cannot handle one more thing, God provides. Leaning into your team is a must. Listening trumps talking, every time. That it’s really hard to convince yourself that sleep is overrated. That 3 year-olds really can wear masks all day. And, you can still hear their laughter and see the smile in their eyes. Discovering that you might actually be cut-out for camping after the Freeze of 2021 is an awesome ‘ah-ha’ moment. That living inside the numbers and data is important, but taking the time to build relationships is essential. That everyone can choose to be an adaptive expert. That success looks different on everyone. That family is everything. And finally, that REGIS is a special place with a big heart. And, a lot of Tonka trucks.
Lori Paredes, Director of Communications
I remember at this time last year when schools in Seattle closed, and I frantically made my way to Mr. Phillips to discuss this new development with him. It was at that moment we could all see something BIG looming on the horizon. We made the decision to close the next day, the Friday before Spring Break (and, coincidentally, Friday the 13th), to get our faculty and staff on the same page regarding what looked like an inevitable shift to remote learning. That Saturday, I piled into the car with my mother to drive to Colorado for Spring Break. Instead of sleeping in, reading novels and relaxing, the next week was spent building out our Coronavirus webpage and making sure our remote learning and response plan were solid before we were slated to return to campus on March 23.
A year later, I’m planning to pile into the car with my mother again to head back to Colorado after school gets out, but the world is completely different and every one of us have gained tools that will carry us throughout any hardship in life. Resilience, perseverance, flexibility, adaptability, compassion and understanding—we may have identified these traits in ourselves before, but we have now expertly honed them throughout the past year. These things have become engrained into our being. Do I wish none of this would have happened? Yes. Am I grateful to have had this opportunity to grow because of COVID? Also, yes.
Angela Scott, Website Director
The past year evoked a giant mixture of emotions. From feelings of isolation to feelings of fear to feelings of gratitude at my many blessings—every feeling just seemed that bit of “extra” over the last 12 months. There have been moments of great joy, such as when we were finally able to return to campus. There have also been moments of sadness when events had to be canceled or postponed. Personally, I long for the day when we can all be in the student life center together again for morning prayer because there are some things that ZOOM just cannot replace! By far, the greatest blessing of the pandemic for me and my family was the opportunity to return to work at Regis. Regis has been part of my family’s life since 2008, and as our son returned to Houston in the middle of his high school career, he was welcomed with open arms in high school by all of his Regis alumni friends. They helped him navigate remote/hybrid /in-person learning, and the Regis alumni parents helped my husband and me figure out how to support him, too. The community at Regis is extraordinary and I am so very grateful to be part of it—even during a pandemic!
Francy Mitchell, 5th & 6th Grade English Language Arts Instructor
I often think of Sophie Madeleine Barat’s vision when I reflect over the COVID year. As an educator in the 1800s, she responded to herself and those around her from a place of tender and enduring love for Christ. Every step she took was from a spirit of compassion and empathy. Her active and ongoing relationship with Christ led her everywhere, regardless of where she was and the event that played out. She longed for students to know this love.
When it gets right down to it, I long for my students to know this love as well. With events that have transpired, it is all too easy to remain in fear. Sophie has reminded me to choose courage over fear, regardless of what happens in my own life.
I don’t always succeed, but I try, try and try. As an educator, the most powerful example we can give to students is not a lesson, but to show courage and compassion in everything we say and do. COVID has taught me that blaming others is a total waste of time because Christ wants us to know Him. I have also learned to prioritize well. Christ comes first, and it is with humility that we learn lessons. Students are not the only learners at Regis. We all have much to learn, too.
As a community, the decision to choose to grow in Christ each day reflects all we do and say. When I pray, I am in a place of solitude. Sometimes, the best way to care for your soul, as well as others around you, is to begin each day in a softened place of solitude.
We often forget that waking up each morning is a gift. We forget that the choices we make each day are also a gift, so I have learned to choose well. To harden yourself to these gifts is to alienate yourself from your own depth and beauty and the inability to see the depth and beauty of others. To soften to Christ is a way to remain present and to understand that each day is precious.
Arin Custer, Events Coordinator & Parents' Association Liaison
Reflecting on this past year, I was reminded in our work environment that grace was needed more than ever. I was reminded that each of us are not just faculty and staff members, but we are people outside of the walls of Regis that may be dealing with extreme amounts of stress in our personal lives due to COVID-19. I was reminded of our faith and how grace was given upon us as children of God, and how we needed to give that same grace to our coworkers with all the emotions and things we were juggling and continue to juggle. And what has been truly beautiful is seeing that others felt that same way about giving grace. Our community has rallied around one another and supported one another during these hard times and that right there is what grace is about.
Laura Lopez, Math Curriculum Specialist
The shift to remote learning has served as a vehicle to redefine and improve my craft. The content and strategies that I use have not changed, only the delivery. Using Zoom as the primary source of interaction has reinforced my belief in differentiated learning, number talks and meeting students at their level. As educators, we are continually seeking out unique and engaging ways to include all students while ensuring that their academic and social needs are met.
Working in schools during this historical time has taught me the importance of flexibility and embracing change. It has also given me a new appreciation for the simple ability to be with the students and my colleagues.