When I accepted the Executive Director role at Two Rivers, I couldn’t wait to get into classes, hear the hum of learning, and see first hand the synergy of the Two Rivers’ learning community coming. I imagined popping into rooms, sitting down next to students, and hearing them share their learning and admiring the student work posted on the walls. And I was looking forward to meeting you all at the front door. I am still looking forward to those things – one day this school year! Although we are not face to face, I find myself humbled and grateful for many things that remote learning has taught me.
First, I have witnessed the Two Rivers’ leadership team collaborate with passion and pride, reimagine teaching and learning. I see firsthand the flexibility, innovation, and above all, determination of our staff! Our teachers have had to become learners themselves, figuring out how to bring connection, joy, and hope into online learning – while keeping safe from a pandemic and supporting their own families. They truly are creating something meaningful and memorable during a difficult time.
Secondly, I’ve also been thrilled with the quality of instruction and students’ engagement. Our teachers are teaching grade-level material online, not assigning busywork. They are challenging students to think critically, solve problems, and keep learning. I recently dropped into an elementary math class. I was delighted to see that every student at home had either a whiteboard or scratch paper and deeply curious about a math problem presented by the teacher. In another classroom, I saw a discussion where students were conversing with one another, tossing around an idea and building upon it as if they were face to face.
Lastly, I have also seen the amazing Two Rivers’ community drive to connect in action this fall. Every staff meeting, teachers, leaders, and staff join early and spend time laughing, smiling, and chatting. In middle school crew, I’ve seen students share deeply personal stories and encourage one another. During our parent meetings, I’ve seen your messages of support and encouragement to one another and our team.
There is no question that this moment is hard for students, teachers, and parents. But it has also demonstrated the amazing creativity and ingenuity of the Two Rivers team and the incredible resilience and perseverance of Two Rivers students and families. We are part of this community because we love its people, and we love what we create together. I’m so proud to be a member of a learning community that holds tights to its values during adversity. I may not know how tall any of you are, but you’ve shown me the size of your hearts these past few weeks, and they could not be more strong and beautiful.