I hope you and your children have begun to settle into a good summer routine. It is probably different in some, if not many ways - just one more change we are all dealing with in these unprecedented times. Today, it is of change that I write.
Though this Interim Head of School phase of my career has made me very comfortable with change, I also know how challenging it can be for individuals and institutions. When transition is taking place during a period as uncertain, even chaotic, as ours is today, the need for collaboration, coordination, and communication increases significantly. We have been working to finalize the plans for reopening in August and will have the final document to you next Thursday, June 18. Shortly after that, Mr. Faus will assume leadership of reopening efforts and decisions, but it will not be new to him. He has been directly engaged in the conversations and planning, so the transition to his leadership of this work will be seamless.
More broadly, change will continue to be a big part of our lives in the coming year. Whether it is the global pandemic, the national conversation about racism in America, or the coming election, we are living in tumultuous times. I recall reading an entry in the diary of a young girl who lived in the countryside near Gettysburg, where she commented on the large groups of soldiers passing through her backyard at the end of June in 1863. She was living in the midst of the Civil War. Unknowingly, she was an eyewitness to the start of what a day or two later was a battle that helped decide the outcome of the war and truly changed the course of history for our country. I believe the events we presently are watching and living are of a similar magnitude. As that young girl was at the time of the Civil War, we are too close to the events of the day, too engaged in trying to understand and manage daily life that we cannot fully appreciate it all, what it means, or where it might lead.
So, how does The Benjamin School manage through such times of change? First, we hold true to our mission; our reason for existing does not change. We must then, however, avoid sticking to old practices, the benefits of, the value of, even the wisdom of which are no longer sound or defensible. To respond to Covid concerns, we have to adopt many changes to protect each other; it is a simple matter of respect for each other. To respond to issues related to Black Lives Matter, we have to make many changes; it is complicated - resolution of which also begins with respect for each other. Finally, for The Benjamin School to wholly fulfill its mission in the coming months and years, it will require ongoing changes; again, a matter of respect - for a virus that can harm us, for those who have faced injustice, and for a future we cannot predict or control.
The past few months have been challenging but reassuring. Amidst all the change, three things have not changed. The faculty and staff managed through a significant sea of change with great success; they are committed to continuing to offer the best education possible, no matter what future circumstances they face. Second, the support of the Board and the parent body has been strong and consistent. Your loyalty and engagement are vital components of Benjamin’s ongoing success. And third, our students have demonstrated a spirit and resilience second to none. I have great confidence they will continue to excel. With that combination, that sense of team and community, The Benjamin School will continue to handle, even prosper no matter what changes lie ahead.
Stay safe and well,
Thomas J. Reid