Resilience is defined by Webster as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness;” and is one of humankind’s most critical qualities. Adaptability is a close ‘cousin’ to resilience. What this past year has taught us is the power contained in groups of individuals facing adversity who make a commitment to do their very best under extremely challenging circumstances and come out the other side proud and strong. Continuing to provide the highest quality early learning program in the midst of circumstances never before experienced in our lifetime presented an ultimate challenge for which there was no template or history from which to draw. Daunting. Overwhelming. Terrifying.
James’ Place survived and is alive and well. Continuing to be able to serve the families of first responders and essential workers required near daily modifications based on the emerging pandemic and information related thereto. Many of our families either lost their jobs or began working at home. Staff who were most vulnerable went on emergency medical leave .Cleaning and sanitizing became an obsession. A pandemic policy was instituted based on input from public health, licensing & government authorities and updated as new information was available. Temps were checked before anyone entered the classroom, parents relinquished their children at the door, one family at a time, anyone displaying a hint of infection was sent for a COVID test and only allowed to return when cleared by their physician, co-mingling between classrooms was held to an absolute minimum and our program became essentially self contained within the walls of our building.
The children’s ability to adapt was impressive as well. They learned to stand quietly for their temperature checks upon entry and say goodbye to their parents at the door rather than being accompanied by mom or dad to their classrooms. It was heart warming to see those brave little souls square their shoulders and march resolutely into school after saying goodbye to their parents at the door. As time passed we saw the children becoming increasingly confident with their new responsibility and proud of their independence. Staff observing the children dash into their parents’ arms at the door at the end of the day were often seen wiping their eyes and clearing their throats. Richard Bach wrote, “Every problem has a gift for you in its hands.” Children are often the path to finding that gift.
2020 was a year of profound uncertainty and unprecedented challenges never before faced. From the initial awareness of the spreading coronavirus, bad news was routine, at times precipitating a feeling of hopelessness with no end in sight. We are now at a place where a sense of hope for a new, post-coronavirus normalcy is on the horizon. As 2020 draws to an end, we reflect on challenges met and conquered through this dark, dark time. We look forward to the light at the end of the tunnel and a much brighter 2021.
Happy New Year to all.