By Nancy Mugele
I listened to a webinar recently on the Future of Education. Education as we know it is being recalibrated by COVID, the economy, and the racial constructs in our society. In this moment in time, we find ourselves reflecting on new delivery models for instruction, imagining new classroom design and programming, building new collaborations, and offering greater accessibility. But, even as we look forward to innovating in our schools, I think it is important to also take a nostalgic look back at the magic of being a part of a connected school community so that we don’t inadvertently misplace it in this intense time of change.
What makes a school community magical? Is it the place, the people, and the program linked in step and connected by a single and unique thread? For Kent School, I believe it is our campus on the Chester River.
Kent School offers an unparalleled environment for learning. It is school, the way school for PK – Grade 8 students should be, filled with relational and nurturing learning combined with challenging place-based academics uniquely focused on the Chesapeake Bay, relevant interdisciplinary work, and leadership opportunities. Childhood is simplified and extended with a focus on play, curiosity, observation, and outdoor experiences at every level, coupled with the rigor of inspiring literature and creative writing, advanced mathematics, world language, environmental science, U.S. history, global studies, art history, music composition, and health and wellness.
The social and emotional aspects of students and faculty are one of our highest priorities. What better place to combat the disconnected feelings we all have now in this time of COVID, than on the river. Set amidst a working farm, with corn being harvested as we speak, I am convinced that this school is magical for its physical space – warm and welcoming classrooms, outdoor learning spaces, and teaching gardens. That, and the sounds of happy voices and laughter of children learning and growing with their courageous teachers, is at the heart of the magic.
We are fortunate to be open for in-person instruction due to the very low positivity rate of virus in our area. We have many layers of mitigation in place and we are being vigilant. We also continue to be mindful of our responsibility to keep everyone safe, while at the same time helping our students find joy in being in school. It is hard work but very rewarding. While I agree wholeheartedly that education must change and iterate, some sacred cows must remain unchanged – and for us it is our place.