Here we are, just after Passover and I have been reflecting (really having flashbacks) on the past year. Just over one year ago, on March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a global health pandemic. Global. Pandemic. Even the words feel large and overbearing. We heard phrases like “nothing like this since the Spanish Flu” and “is this the plague?”
Like our ancestors, we found ourselves in a desert with few resources, but we did not wander. We quickly figured out where we needed to go and created paths to get there. We were faced with obstacles and either conquered them or adjusted our route. We were intentional every step of the way. Nothing was going to stop us from reaching our destination. We stretched out our own hands and helped each other along. Everyone’s world was turned upside down and early childhood educators, as we always do, turned on a dime and reimagined not only education but community. And we rocked it.
I am reminded of a quote by Gabby Giffords, former United States Representative from Arizona, “Jewish women - by our tradition and the way we were raised – have an ability to cut through all the reasons why something should, shouldn’t or can’t be done and pull people together to be successful.” I have had this quote on the wall in my office as inspiration, since 2011 when Giffords was shot in the head in an assassination attempt. Just as telling the story of leaving Egypt is part of our Jewish tradition, making things work with the resources we have is part of the tradition of early childhood educators.
Over the past year I have witnessed and spoken with members of ECE-RJ (Jewish and non-Jewish), early childhood educators (all genders), who are living up to Gabby Giffords’ words. We heard that there could not be quality in online, remote early childhood education. And we did it. We were told that it was impossible to form a real community when we could not meet in person, and we did it. We were told schools and centers could not be safe and healthy in a pandemic, and we did it. We worried how we would support children, families, and teachers in this new way of living, and we did it. And we wondered how we were going to do all we believed in and still take care of our own families, and we did it.
Sometimes it might have been by the skin of our teeth, and sometimes we did this with little or no support, but we did it. Many of us are still the only ones in our buildings, and we are still doing it. Every single day, we do it and we do it well. We take temperatures, screen parents and children for possible exposure to illness, sign children in, send reports to state agencies, keep in touch with every family, counsel parents and teachers through difficult times and situations, run high quality, safe and healthy schools, teach excellent classes, support our teachers, colleagues, children, and families. Every step of the journey, every obstacle we faced, we have rocked it all.
So, thank you. Thank you, ECE-RJ members, across North America for, like Gabby Giffords, being my inspiration.
Thank you, and keep rockin’ it!