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From the Principal’s Pen ~ April – May 2020

From the Principal’s Pen

April – May 2020

Submitted by:  Jennifer McGee, Principal of the Atwood Primary School


“Silver Linings”


I always find the best thing about Facebook is the “time hop”.  You get to wake up to a photo or a post of what you were doing last year, or five years ago.  It’s always a little “awwww” or a smile before work.


Lately, I have been jolted by the time hop photos that have been popping up. Last year at this time, we were so…well… normal, just ”business as usual”.  It’s hardly business as usual today.


In the office, my administrative assistant and I jumped on our computers at 11:00 as the daily Covid 19 update was live-streamed. We held our breath as the escalating numbers were reported.  Afterwards, Governor Mills gave the mandate that all dine-in restaurants would be closed, and crowds of 10 or more would be prohibited.  We looked at each other, with fear in our eyes.


Each day, something new topples with the spread of coronavirus.  At first, we heard about sports seasons, and then colleges closing their doors, and then our public schoolhouses closed, and on and on and on.


It sort of felt, and still feels, like standing on the edge of the shore.  One wave sweeps over us, and we lose our balance, and then right ourselves, and then…another wave pushes us off-center once again.   Wave after wave after wave.


When facing any kind of adversity, mindset is key.  I’ve had to actively work to keep my mindset focused on the positive throughout this ordeal.   It’s been the only way for me to stay calm (for the most part) and remain centered in light of all of the unfamiliar.  “Blue skies in, gray skies out…” has been my breathing mantra.


So, each and every day, I am very intentionally looking for “the silver linings”.  I have found it helps.  The origin of the saying, “every cloud has a silver lining,” comes from John Milton’s poem, “Comus”. It has become a frequently used idiom meaning, “in even the worst situations or events, there can be found some positives.”


And so, each day, I wake up determined, even in light of this worldwide pandemic, or actually because of it, to find the silver linings.  It’s that essential shift of mindset…from seeing the “sky is falling” to looking for the “good stuff”…that is what will keep all of us healthy and moving forward during this unprecedented (at least in our lifetime here in the U.S.) time.


Of course, if you are dealing directly with the illness, it will be ever so hard to find the silver linings, now. Perhaps you will see them in the rearview mirror, when the illness has passed.


But for those of us who are in self quarantine, or who are social distancing, can you see some glistening silver?


My first glimpse of silver came from the top!  In the United States, I always had the sneaking feeling that what mattered most was profit.  I felt, deep inside, that the “bottom line” for our country was money and money and more money. I felt the American appetite for wealth would take precedence over any virus.   The fairly swift response to put people over profit was (I hate to say this…) a surprise.   The health and well being of our population, and at first blush we thought the most impacted would be our medically fragile and elderly, were clearly our priority.  The dominoes fell, one by one, which of course had a clear financial impact on our society, and yet, the priority was clear.   We all needed to lock arms to protect the health of our people.   That, in itself, was beautiful.


America hit the pause button.  And with that pause, came surprising results for our dear planet Earth.  Suddenly the smog lifted over major cities.  With fewer emissions from jam-packed highways, our planet had a chance to take in a giant breath of oxygen.  China alone had a 25% drop in carbon monoxide emissions, and the water streaming in the canals in Venice were clear for the first time in decades.  The harmful emissions of carbon monoxide have been substantially reduced as people of the planet shelter in place.   Although we never want to sacrifice the health of humans for the health of our planet, perhaps there are lessons we can take away from this when this pandemic is behind us. Perhaps we can “hit the pause” button as a nation, occasionally and intentionally, in order to maintain the health of our Earth.


I, personally, have been on the “hamster wheel” for decades.  Running as fast as I can. Even when I had my babies, I was granted a six-week leave and then handed my tiny infants off to the arms of daycare workers.   It’s been somewhat lovely to see families tucked in together, regardless of income or station in life, spending time and rediscovering the beauty in the simple things.  Social media platforms give me a glimpse into some of your windows, and I get to see how you are spending time.  Families are baking, playing outside (calling it recess…makes me laugh), putting together puzzles, painting by numbers, making and sending cards to loved ones, playing board games and card games, reading to one another, and just simply being together…without rushing…without timelines.


And neighbors are checking on neighbors.  After all, we are all in this together.  We are in unchartered territory and it is scary.  But, there are lessons to be learned and silver linings to be found.  I wish it didn’t take a pandemic for us to rediscover what matters to all of us, but maybe that’s exactly what it took.


I am holding you all in my heart.  Yes, your children’s schoolwork is important, but each of you, and your health and well-being, are more important.


With You In This,

Jenny McGee, Principal of Atwood Primary School





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