These are strange times we are living in, with the conflicting paths of isolation from community alongside a greater need than ever for community support. This is where the Caldwell community has stepped up and shown its strengths in some obvious and subtle ways. I am sure each has their own stories to tell, but in hopes of connection and commiseration in this new digital yet distant world we are in, I’ll share some of mine.
On a recent warm spring evening I encountered neighbors while walking our dogs. As we stopped and chatted on the street there were the standard greetings and questions, but it seems that some of my answers surprised them. They have a middle school-aged child who attends a local private school and they lamented that she had ‘been on spring break for several weeks.’ They asked how my two Rhetoric (high school) kids were faring and seemed astounded with my answer. Much to my boy’s exasperation they only had 3 days of unscheduled ‘spring break’ while the Caldwell staff and admin developed a plan of action for remote learning following the Governor’s stay at home order.
Three days after announcing the move to remove learning, Caldwell had arranged for safe and organized pick up of textbooks left in lockers and printed packets of information to kick start the process. In fact, their first truly remote assignment was published by their math teacher that day, Thursday, and due the same evening. By that weekend several of their teachers had posted videos with detailed explanations for working through math and science questions along with literature reviews of books they had been in the midst of reading when classes were disrupted. While this quick action by the Caldwell faculty was impressive and startling in contrast to what my neighbors had experienced, it was not surprising to me.
My experience likely doesn’t represent all, even at Caldwell as we have moved beyond Grammar and Dialectic school parenting. The parents of younger students are needed for far more hands on activity in their child’s remote learning experience, just like they receive when in the classrooms with their teachers at Caldwell. They have my empathy and frequent prayers for sustaining not only their strength to persevere but also their sense of humor.
Our family situation has its advantages as both of my boys are relatively self-sufficient in their schoolwork, but not without trials. For example, in recently reviewing grades it became apparent the pull of ‘being at home among distractions’ had set in. We have also “enjoyed” lessons on time management, such as: pushing the 11:59 pm deadline is probably not the best work practice.
Further, over the past few weeks I have had to reacquaint myself with the subject of Chemistry which, despite my science-based degrees, was never my favorite subject. Thankfully our Caldwell Chemistry teacher has published several educational and informative videos on the subject of stoichiometry, molar mass and percent yields. We have spent time together learning and being reacquainted with the subject of Chemistry.
A significant distinction of the efforts and responsiveness of the Caldwell faculty and community is in the fact that they will post actual grades. Caldwell is not offering the Pass/Fail option available to students in the traditional educational system. Our children will see the documented fruits of their labors in their classroom time and through this remote learning period. The one modification most concerning to one of my sons is that he will not have the usual benefit he relies upon of ‘strong’ oral and final exam grades to bolster one or two of his less than stellar classwork grades. This has motivated him to be a bit more diligent in his daily work and he is already seeing the positive results.
These changes in our world were clearly unexpected, however the solid response from the Caldwell’s faculty and staff community is not. In our 11 years we have seen many changes with our family and our Caldwell community. With each one, this community has come through better than before, much the same as the hope I have for my boys and our family. From what I am seeing, it looks like we will.