A New Mindset to Address Anxiety
Tom Elieff, Head of School

As Rabbi Jonathan Sacks says, "I believe faith is not certainty but the courage to live with uncertainty."

So much has changed on our campus in the past 5 months. Take our parking lot for instance: numbered gates, a longer carpool route with A LOT more traffic cones, a COVID-19 message on our marquee, temperature checking in the vehicle, and everyone wearing masks. Inside the school, we have teachers teaching and students learning. This Monday we welcomed our Early Childhood through First Grade students back to campus and things are going great.

Going great? Wait -- stop and back up for a second ...

This year will be so different from the parent perspective -- a constant sense of this year being unlike any before -- a little distant and a little estranged from the action will be our new normal. We know that not being inside the building for Friday morning Shabbat, or not being on the volleyball/basketball court sidelines cheering on our Stallions, or living our Levine Academy milestones in the manner that we have in the past will contribute to some anxiety.

Since Friday, March 13, our last day on campus together last year, we have learned a great deal about what this new school year will mean and what it will take to be successful. We have learned a number of things that will bring us together.

I know this year is going to take three things for faculty and families, plus one huge middah:

  • #1 Flexibility, in order to continue responding smartly to the ever-evolving research, data, and developments.
  • #2 Complexity, operate simultaneously two systems of learning -- on-campus and virtually.
  • #3 It will take Imagination, especially when it comes to solving problems we have never encountered before.

Which leads me to this year's new middah (Jewish value) Kavod / Respect. You may have noticed this year's middah proudly displayed on our parkway banners -- we will talk about Respect a lot this year as we navigate our mindsets, as educators and parents, with flexibility, complexity, and imagination, we can supersede anxiety, we will take on this school year with greater assurance and confidence. This is what our students need from us as educators and from you, their families -- they need assurance that while this year will be different, and perhaps different for quite some time, together we are going to make it through this stronger. This will help all of us embrace hope and envision a brighter tomorrow amidst this world of ambivalence and uncertainty around us.