A Message from the Head of School: A View from My Home Office
Dear NDA Family,
Today is May 20th, the 10th and final week of Virtual School for the 19-20 academic year at Notre Dame Academy students. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has reported 1,504,830 total cases and 90,340 total deaths as a result of COVID-19 in the US and the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported 4,735,622 total cases and 316,289 total deaths around the world. Governor Baker has shared guidelines for a phased re-opening leading to the “new normal.”
As I sit at the desk in my home office, I am enjoying the bright sunshine coming through the windows; Mia and Bianca are elated that they may be able to go for a puppy spa day soon; the red roses that sit on my desk smell delightful; and I sip my cup of tea thinking about how I am experiencing so much gratitude for the hidden blessings that Coronavirus has brought, while simultaneously experiencing quarantine fatigue. While this time has allowed for much reflection and cherished time with my children, it has also brought moments of exhaustion fueled by a great deal of uncertainty. According to a recent article by the Cleveland Clinic, this crisis, “has drastically altered milestone celebrations and recreational activities on top of eliminating a lot of the services that we rely on daily. These major changes have brought on a lot of grief. In grieving the lives, we once knew, we find ourselves feeling drained or emotionally numb.” This cognitive overload that so many of us are feeling, leads to lack of concentration during the day and not sleeping well at night. Everyone is affected in some way by the changes over the past two months.
As I sit at the desk in my home office, I am reminded that I am part of a special community working together in support of each other - students, faculty, staff, administration, parents, alumnae, and the broader community. This support fuels my mental and physical energy and allows me to continue to be effective and productive.
Even in these challenging times, there is so much for the Notre Dame Academy community to celebrate. Yesterday, over one hundred students and family members gathered on Zoom for the 2019-2020 Awards Assembly and honored our athletic and academic award recipients. The Awards presentation can be seen here. My personal congratulations to all of the recipients who showcase the NDA values of character, community and commitment!!
This Friday is the last day of classes at NDA. On Friday, we will have a very special Year End and Class of 2020 Prayer Service in the morning and host “Senior Beep Day”! “Senior Beep Day” has become one of the favorite traditions of NDA Seniors. With some alterations to the tradition, Seniors will gather in their cars and beep for 2 minutes 20 seconds to mark their 2020 graduation before leaving campus for the last time as NDA students. (Our advance apologies to our neighbors!) Seniors will return to campus with their families at their assigned time over the course of the next week for their Senior “Walks.” Using social distancing, each senior will walk across the auditorium stage in their cap and gown. A professional photographer and videographer will capture this significant moment for each Senior. We will be compiling all of the videos into a special presentation for the Class of 2020.
As I shared in a previous communication, in addition to ensuring NDA students continued to receive a high level of education in this alternate environment, as well as planning non-traditional year-end activities and events, the NDA Leadership Team has been preparing for the 20-21 academic year. Later in June, we will share summer assignments, class schedules and book requirements with parents and students. In mid-June we will be announcing the new faculty and staff that will be joining the NDA team this fall. I am quite excited about the experience and passion that the new staff will bring to the Academy. Adding to our tenured team’s enthusiasm, we will undoubtedly have an extremely talented faculty educating and supporting our students this fall. Being able to look towards the fall with such excitement certainly does help combat quarantine fatigue.
That excitement, however, does not taint the reality that next school year will look far different from the classrooms NDA students and teachers abruptly departed 10 weeks ago. The reality is that we don’t yet know what those classrooms will look like. The NDA team is currently scenario planning our “new normal” which could include one-way hallways, desks 6 feet apart, students and teachers in masks, and teachers switching rooms rather than students. And though I am very proud of our transition to the virtual learning environment over the last few months, there were certainly many lessons learned, and these lessons provide us an opportunity to build an even better online or hybrid program moving forward if necessary. Our Health and Safety Team and our Academic and Student Experience Team will be meeting over the summer to understand the needs and develop and employ the necessary solution sets. No matter what considerations need to be made, ultimately the Leadership at NDA will ensure the first priority remains the health and safety of our students and employees while we continue to ensure a quality, personal educational experience.
As the 2019-2020 academic year ends, I will be shifting this communication to a bi-weekly correspondence. I will continue to communicate with you via “A View From My Home Office” to share all of the exciting things happening at NDA over the summer - though maybe I will be writing it from my NDA office soon! As always, if you have any questions or comments at any time, please feel free to reach out.
With my warmest regards and sincere wishes for a wonderful summer,
Lisa Mancini ‘88 P‘18 Head of School
Notre Dame Academy