Without a doubt, the Covid-19 pandemic has been both tragic and traumatic to our lives. More than 3 million people worldwide have died as a result of the coronavirus, the United States saw a jump of more than 5% in the unemployment rate between 2019 and 2020, and a recent poll by the Voice of the Educator Study showed that more than 50% of teachers describe their students as having suffered “significant loss of learning.”
Speaking as an educator, I see firsthand the detrimental impact this crisis has had on teaching and learning, but there are good things emerging too: new, technology-rich teaching and learning tools are in use; students who may struggle in a traditional classroom setting have found a new way of connecting, and we are thinking more broadly and deeply about education than we have in a very long time.
I, like many others, are eager for a return to normalcy here at school, but I will also insist that we hold onto what we have learned and how we have grown.
One of the most definitive ways that the pandemic has affected Children’s Community School is by giving us cause to “double down” on our mission:
Children’s Community School lays the foundation for urban students’ educational success by offering a robust curriculum and unique experiences, by developing their individual character, and by cultivating strong family involvement.
A little over a year ago — March 13, 2020, to be exact — we found ourselves thrust into an entirely new way of existing. For CCS, this meant thinking not only about how to educate our students, but how they would be fed, do families’ homes have adequate internet access, and — as a community that is deeply caring — how can we protect our students and families as they face health issues, economic hardship, and a seemingly total shift in terms of how we are living.
We wanted to “be all things to all people,” because that is what felt best and most natural. Realistically, though, we had to look closely at what our mission calls us to do, and first things first, we had to ensure that we continued to lay that rock solid educational foundation that is at the core of Children’s Community School.
“Mission drift” or “mission creep” is a concept faced by non-profit organizations and for-profit companies alike. Not to be confused with a thoughtful or intentional shift of focus or mission, “mission drift” is when an organization shifts its priorities — philosophically, operationally, and/or financially — from those outlined in the stated mission.
Falling away from the stated mission can cause reputational damage, missed opportunities, poor stewardship of resources, and in the most drastic cases, collapse of the organization as a whole.
Even as Covid-19 presented our community with challenges never before experienced, and the temptation to “do it all” was very real, the leadership of CCS fought to ensure our mission was clear, and it ultimately brought us to a single word: educate.
Our mission calls us to educate, so even in the most tempestuous moments of the last year, we have held strong.
- We have continued to educate students through a rigorous curriculum;
- We have engaged and educated families regarding resources from community partners, and;
- We have educated ourselves as an entire community on our ability to be resilient and the strong bond of interconnectedness.
You could argue that, faced with the challenges of the past year, the mission of Children’s Community School is as strong as ever.
– Jeff Martin, Executive Director at Children’s Community School