INSIGHT: EPS at 19
By Dr. Terry Macaluso, Head of School
Life, itself, is a delicate balance, but this year’s opening of school requires a delicate, delicate balance.
What a time it’s been. So many stories, so many questions. Some anxiety. Some excitement about being together again. Fear about the Delta variant. Conflict about masks and vaccine. There’s a whole new level of reality to incorporate into the creation of a school year. There were also dozens of lessons learned during quarantine—one of the most important of which is that we are, indeed, social animals.
Running a close second is the capacity to live with ambiguity. This is not something that is easy to do. It violates every natural tendency we have to plan, to anticipate, to think we know in advance what is going to happen next. We never DO know what is going to happen next, but when our external worlds seem relatively predictable and constant, we plan and anticipate. Thing is, what we plan doesn’t usually happen the way we’ve planned it.
COVID has interfered with our confidence in a predictable and constant universe. Humans are typically successful navigating their environments because we can think. Whatever happens, we usually find a way to cope. But whatever happens rarely has much to do with planning. In forty-five years of school leadership, I don’t recall a single strategic plan that went the way it was supposed to go. Good things happened, but only because we were always trying to take optimal advantage of whatever possibilities emerged while “following” the plan.
That, I think, is the thing worth remembering. There’s no more ambiguity in our circumstances now than there’s ever been. We just didn’t realize it. We are homeostatic creatures. We like stability. We don’t like change.
One of my favorite philosophers is a pre-Socratic named Heraclitus. He believed that change was the basic essence of reality, and is known to have said, “You cannot step into the same river twice. Actually, you cannot step into the same river even once!”
What I CAN say with certitude is that every employee at EPS has prepared to start this year with energy and commitment. It’s going to take both of those things in large measure to make our return to campus as meaningful and as satisfying as it can be. I want to take this moment to thank every one of them for what they’ve done for the past eighteen months, and for what they are prepared to do as we re-connect.
And to our families—thank you, too! Thank you for having confidence in us, for supporting us through a couple of rough years, and for staying with us as we prepare to launch the nineteenth year at Eastside Prep.