April 3, 2020 Message to Members

Courage is Contagious

Coming into this week, many of us were experiencing a state of anxiety and worry that was far above what we would consider ‘normal’. Although a return to familiar routines and a powerful sense of purpose has tempered this elevated emotional state, our new routines are likely far from normal.

“Vulnerability begets vulnerability; courage is contagious.” ~ Brené Brown

Leaders often engage in acts of courage that require taking a chance or a step forward, while others may avoid or delay action. In the context of this global viral pandemic, courageous leadership will look different. We have found it necessary to acknowledge our vulnerability in the area of medical science. The Integrated Planning Framework’s first guiding principle is to Maintain a healthy and safe environment for all students and families and all employees, and in this critical area of our new responsibilities, we must rely on experts for their guidance.

Our courage will be found in our ability to assess and measure those decisions that require the expertise of healthcare professionals, and to accept that these decisions will take time to be considered. Courageous leaders are demonstrating patience.

Leaders will find that their familiar and trusted routes may be blocked, and that they will need to circle back to other paths, change their thinking, and try again. Courageous leaders are modeling resilience.

As we move forward with a growing comfort around the continuity of learning, we must not lose sight of the supports that will be necessary for our school communities to effectively engage in and deliver the plans.

If we are feeling anxious and have worries, it makes sense that those same feelings can be found in our school communities, our teachers and support staff, our students and their families. There are few who have been untouched in this crisis, and there are many who have experienced loss.

The fundamental definition of empathy is ‘the innate capacity to sense and feel the emotions of others.’  This capacity is within us all, but many will recognize that it takes time to consider the emotions and needs of others. In order to view their circumstances through a lens of empathy, we need to exercise patience and understanding. We have that time now.

As you reflect on this past week and look ahead, be gentle and compassionate with yourself. Take that deep breath. And extend a virtual hand to others, whether it’s a colleague, a student or a parent who needs your courageous leadership.

Take Care,