Head of School Blog

Shifting Gears

Aloha kākou,

The start to this year reminds me of learning to drive. Coming from the “old school” way of teaching, my father drove me to the foot of Tantalus instructing me as we went along: this is how you balance the clutch and accelerator to get the car going, this is when and how you shift the gears. When we got to Roosevelt High School, he stopped the car and switched seats with me.  “Now, you go,” he said, and that was that. The first launch was pretty easy. The car lurched a bit, but I had the general idea, and I was able to get it moving. The engine whirred, tired of being in first gear, so I shifted into second - grinding the gears a bit as I motored along. Long story short, despite the stalls, clunks and whirrs, I eventually made my way around the mountain to the safety of our home.

Sound familiar? It’s been an unusual opening of school, and I’d like to thank all of our LJA heroes. First,I applaud our faculty, who came to work last week notwithstanding their trepidations. Most were experiencing our protocols for the first time, and we had three times the number of students that we did during  our second phase of reopening for  summer school. Together, you worked through the kinks of our face-to-face protocols, while at the same time connecting with our students and their families, establishing expectations and equipping students for the distance learning experience. Few can appreciate all that you accomplished in such a short span. You are nothing short of amazing. Thank you!

I’d also like to thank those who are serving in our First Responder and LJA Staff childcare program. You aren’t just providing “child care”, you are teaching, comforting, troubleshooting tech issues, communicating with families, monitoring recess and lunches and providing feedback on protocols on which we can improve … hats off to you! Watching you work with children who have different teachers, devices and tools caused me to empathize with you and those LJA parents who have more than one child at home logging-on to different platforms, using different technology tools and troubleshooting myriad tech issues--all while trying to get their paid-work done.

To our support staff--from administrative assistants to our team of nurses to our Blue Crew and concessions staff--we mahalo you for being the “face” of LJA. Your good cheer and calming presence keeps us smiling.

And finally, hats off to our LJA families. You have supported us through this undesired return to distance learning and stepped up your efforts at home in order to keep us all safer. We know that as good as we might get at virtual learning, it is a poor substitute for the LJA experience. You are filling the void through your investment of time and energy, and we thank you for your understanding. You also jumped in from Day 1 with pre-screening before arriving on campus and have been excellent about keeping us  informed of illnesses at home. To date, we have had no cases of COVID on campus! You have been our first line of defense against the virus, so we thank you for your attentiveness and communication with the school.  We look forward to gathering again soon for launa, community-building, which is central to who we are as a school-community.

My first driving experience was a blessing of sorts. It taught me to appreciate the fits and starts, tortuous paths, short segments of straight and level road and even the occasional stop on a mild/steep incline. In the same way, I hope that this quick launch and transition to distance learning will make it that much easier to navigate the road ahead and to enjoy the magnificence of the transitory moments we are thankful to have among school children for the balance of the year. 

Take care,
Earl