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Sailing Through the 2020-21 School Year– Dr. Katrina Foster, Hampden Elementary/Middle School

At the onset of the pandemic, the Fund asked City Schools students, teachers, and principals to share their experience of the shift to remote learning. A year later, the Fund has followed up with the same individuals for their perspective on the 2020-2021 school year. In our final blog post of this series, Dr. Katrina Foster, principal of Hampden Elementary/Middle School, describes the challenges and uncertainty she faced while leading her school community through uncharted waters. Read her essay from March 2020 here.

As I steer the Hampden EMS school year ship back to port, I am astonished that we are still afloat given how our sailboat had to move simultaneously through the unpredictable and unrelenting winds of COVID-19, racial trauma, and political turmoil while also staying on course through the murky and muddy waters of virtual and in-person instruction.

First, I want to be honest about how this school year made me feel.
I was stretched when I felt like I didn’t have any more room left to grow.
I was tested when I wasn’t sure if I knew enough to earn a passing score.
I was challenged when it was simply easier to throw in the towel.
I was pulled when all I wanted to do was let go.

Even though it was challenging, I learned to keep my focus on the faint speck of light growing dimly in the darkness to keep me hopeful, eagerly expecting for the storm to pass and for the sun to shine again. Now that a new dawn is on the horizon, I am incredibly thankful for the love and support of my family, friends, colleagues, and students. I remain inspired and motivated by their resilience to try again, fight again, and hope again. So now, as we transition into planning and preparing for the uncharted waters of what both living and learning looks and sounds like post-pandemic, my core belief still remains: I believe that education is the gateway to a brighter future for our world. After all, in the words of poet laureate Amanda Gorman, “There is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.”

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