As I began what I believe may be my 600th Ebytes article, I reflected on many of the wonderful people I have met and events that have occurred at Shorecrest over the past 15 years.
I estimate that 14,580 students have attended Shorecrest over those years. 1,061 have commenced and are now Shorecrest Alumni. Colleagues, parents and I helped, and at times even pulled out of cars, many of those reluctant students who are now graduates when they were in Experiential School and Lower School. It is truly wonderful to see them now!
On Sunday, May 17, the Class of 2020 will engage in a “final lap” around the Shorecrest campus in their cars and then one by one will be photographed receiving their diplomas in safe social distance from Shorecrest Board Chair, Dennis Leary; Head of Upper School, Don Paige; and Headmaster, Mike Murphy. Making the best of a disappointing and disruptive end of their senior year has been the focus for the seniors, their families, and the Upper School faculty and administration. We are proud of this class and below, readers can get a glimpse of some of their special achievements.
One of the insightful authors I have read in the past 7 weeks noted that for many teachers the move from face-to-face teaching in a classroom to distance learning on Zoom and other forms of media thrust teachers back into being first year rookies. We quickly learned that even though teaching remotely was new for most teachers, the core skills - including the love for students, the ability to inspire and the collaborative process that teaching has become - allowed for great learning experiences to occur and the “rookies” performed like the pros they are.
One of the big decisions made this week to bring joy to some people has been to hold a drive-through parade and distribution of diplomas for the Class of 2020, on May 17. One at a time, the seniors will be able to exit their vehicle, add a momento to a time capsule that will be buried later in the summer under their class bricks and then pick up their diploma. Later in July, if allowed, a more formal Commencement Ceremony will be conducted.
“A long time ago in a galaxy far far away…” I had the choice of taking a course on Shakespeare or one on the history of Science Fiction. A week into Shakespeare I switched into the Sci-Fi class. It did not take long to realize the Sci-Fi students and professor had their own language. Four years after taking that class George Lucas released the first of the “Star Wars” movies. Obviously Coronavirus is not science fiction. It will get cured by science. But it has occurred to me that Shorecrest teachers banded together like Jedi behind Yoda and Obi-Wan.
Two of the initiatives from the 2020 Strategic Plan: Vision for the Future focused on Culture and Community, and Innovation in Teaching and Learning. While our community's circumstances have changed drastically since that planning process in 2015, the outcomes of that work are paying dividends today during this time of crisis.
The Shorecrest faculty/staff and I are grateful for SCA. SCA did not wait until our current crisis to show appreciation for teachers. SCA did not wait for a special Teacher Appreciation Week. Our Shorecrest Community Association spent the entire year showing appreciation for the work of our teachers and staff. On top of providing programs to enrich the lives of our children, like Fall Festival and Book Buddies, SCA leaders extended themselves to provide families with support in the form of Uniform Sales, Supply Sales, Greenery Sales, Grandparents Day and of course, Shorecrest Cares.
Communication skills, interpersonal relationship skills, commitment, creativity, adaptability, patience and love never seemed more important. Administrators and teachers alike, as always, are here to live our Mission and be the college preparatory school that educates a diverse community of students to be lifelong learners… We are here for you.
Week two of distance learning gave all of us an opportunity to take lessons from week one combined with feedback from colleagues, students and family members, to ensure teaching and learning is maintained. As important as the lessons may be, the overwhelmingly positive attitudes and encouragement community members have shared with each other have been inspirational. I am sure the positive feedback is the result of the great work teachers, the tech team, the communications team and support staff are doing. There are behind-the-scenes stories that bring tears to my eyes both with joy - and some with other emotions.
During the coming weeks, we will all find some silver linings in the midst of the disruptions we are experiencing. I have already had two silver linings experiences. One has been seeing the incredible dedication of our Technology and Communications teams as they have reached out to faculty, staff, students and families to help them prepare for the distance learning experience being offered. Meanwhile, in our Shorecrest neighborhood here are a few of the silver linings that have been reported to me...
At the recommendation of a fellow headmaster, I recently read "The Coddling of the American Mind." The authors who wrote a highly acclaimed article with the same title in 2015 continued their research to write this book. It strikes me that it is one of those books that will appeal to people who believe in the thesis the authors present and will, at the same time, enrage those for whom the authors are greatly concerned.
Three cheers to Head Coaches Wolfrath and Montoya, their coaching staff and very talented players for advancing to the Soccer State Championship games. Not often do both the boys and girls teams from the same school, in the same sport do what our Chargers have accomplished. By now most community members know the girls ran into a juggernaut. The loss to St. John’s, although painful, does not ruin the best girls soccer season since 2006. Fortunately, the boys had an incredible game and upset undefeated and nationally ranked Maclay 4-0 to become State Champions! Cheers!
This past week, I joined a Student Ambassador, Ceci Garcia ‘20, as she led a tour of our Middle and Upper Schools. Our guest was blown away by the high levels of engagement we all observed as we randomly entered, math, Spanish, art, technology, Medical Sciences, English and history classes. Of course, it is impressive to have a member of the senior class be able to describe the programs being offered at Shorecrest. Yet I am sure Ceci would agree, it is even more impressive to have students and teachers share their enthusiasm for the work they are doing.
In January, eighth graders developed their own innovative remotely operated vehicle (ROV) concepts and built prototypes using recycled materials. Their designs were displayed in Haskell Library. The range of challenges the students want to address gives an interesting insight into what matters to the Class of 2024:
It is after 6pm and you have come to school to pick up your child from an after school event and decide that rather than driving around campus you will save a second and go out the entrance. While driving out you are confronted by one of our School Protection Officers who reminds you that the driveways are one-way at all times. Your child is in the car with you. What do you do?
Most, if not all of our children know that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a leader of the non-violent Civil Rights Movement in the early 1960s. Do they know that in 1983 President Ronald Reagan signed an annual holiday celebrating Dr. King into law? Do they know it took three years before the holiday was celebrated? And do they know that it was not until the year 2000 that all 50 states agreed to acknowledge the holiday? Most importantly, I hope they explore and come to understand the WHY of the above facts.
During the first semester I had the opportunity to meet with 149 members of the faculty and staff for one-on-one conversations about Shorecrest culture and their careers. The experience has been humbling in many ways. One way has been the realization of how much more our faculty and staff want to do and how they want to Be More for our students.