Supporting Our Local Communities
The entire "normal" teaching model was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic across our country and world. Starting in March of 2020, teachers, administrators, students and families were thrown into emergency response mode to continue educating students despite community lockdowns and school closures.
Every school responded to the pandemic differently depending on state governors' orders, town mandates and school-board decisions. Many schools in population-dense areas immediately switched to a virtual learning model and are still practicing that today; this includes our school partners in San Diego and Richmond, CA, and Charlotte, NC. In other parts of the country with lower population densities schools were able to negotiate various hybrids of in-person/virtual learning models; our school partners in New England followed this model.
No matter the decisions made for each school regarding the models, its been difficult for everybody to negotiate the new ways while maintaining COVID-19 safety precautions. Administrators, teachers, students and families remain in flux as we weather the storm together awaiting large-scale immunizations.
Understandably, educational programs like ours, World Story Exchange, were put on hold. With so many new variables for schools to navigate, adding more variables like a creative storytelling project proved too challenging. We found ourselves with less work and more time. During the fall semester of 2020 we weren't traveling to various states and countries to host projects, like our pre-pandemic days. Thankfully, virtual teaching projects have been proposed and solidified for 2021.
So, what better way to use our extra time than to volunteer in our local communities?
Lindsay coached the 3rd-6th Hartford Recreation Field Hockey team in Hartford, Vermont. It had been 13 years since Lindsay coached field hockey and she was happy and eager to return to the field. The girls worked hard and their skills evolved week-to-week. Masks were worn, safety rules were followed, and outdoor-fun was certainly had. They even figured out how to have an outdoor, COVID-safe bbq at the end of the season. The gratitude was full circle between coaches, players and recreation staff.
While Lindsay was coaching, Scott volunteered his construction skills to support the Norwich Community Circles Project hosted by the Historical Society in our hometown of Norwich, VT.
Community members were invited to participate in the community mural project to celebrate our interconnected circles and reflect on the positive during this challenging time. Participants were invited to reflect on the following questions then respond through a painting:
What brings you hope during this time?
What are you grateful for right now?
Who or what's in your circle?
Participants were given a circular piece of canvas and painting supplies (if needed). Optional en plein air painting workshops where held around town. On October 2nd, the paintings were displayed on the Norwich Historical Society fence at an exhibit opening, then mounted onto large boards and installed on a concrete wall outside the general store, Dan & Whit's.
Scott led the installation efforts of the mural.
The team of rockstars who facilitated the entire Norwich Community Circles Project included Carla Vincent, Tracy Smith, Wendy Thompson, Sarah Rooker, Nancy Cressman and Cheri Mather.
In a time of uncertainly and societal fragmentation, Lindsay, Scott and many other people volunteered in their local communities working together to bring creativity, opportunity, joy and support for all. Bit by bit, small efforts by lots of people lead to large impacts felt within - and beyond - our communities.