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Blog: Thursday, April 23rd, 2020

Resiliency, Food, Gardening & the Sound of Music

(In light of the Global Pandemic and school closures, I decided to stop our monthly newsletters for the remainder of the year and continue with Principal Chan's monthly blog; I promise to keep some Educational content each month, but I think it's also important to share about the world around us, and give perspective, solace, and find comfort that comes from hearing we are together in this.  Please keep checking back on our website for regular notices!)

My daughter is in her first year of teaching, and boy is she stressed out; lesson plans and learning goals, formative and summative assessment—and let’s not forget about the ever-present art of classroom management that needs to happen to make all students successful.  Just when you think you have it figured out…a Pandemic strikes.  No Really.  A REAL Pandemic.  Not exactly what they prepared us for in a teacher practicum; imagine a teacher interview question: How do you facilitate Resiliency and Student Learning in a worldwide pandemic?

When we are stressed, we reach out to the things that help us to relax.  In a time of social distancing, that isn’t easy, but we’re starting to notice a lot of familiarity with making Food. Did you happen to notice the empty shelves at the supermarket where the flour used to be? Bread flour, cake flour, pastry flour, pizza flour, whole wheat flour, white whole wheat flour, buckwheat flour, even self-rising flour…it’s all gone.  Yeast is as valuable today as gold.  Anybody got some sourdough starter to spare?  My Facebook feed is full of friends sharing bread, cake and pizza recipes, reminding them of simpler times where food preparation and family stories were a regular family event, and has become again.

I drove by a local Greenhouse to buy some seed and soil for our school gardening program.  That is, I THOUGHT I was going to the greenhouse; just before I pulled into the parking lot, I noticed a lineup longer than a Costco TP lineup.  I drove home & plotted out Plan B.  With a little help, we are now planting Lettuce, Carrots, beets, radishes, tomatoes, and an assortment of supporting herbs & spices—all for our community to harvest in a few months. Free. Yup. We even got free therapy from our gardening experience, and soon it will be time to share the harvest.  If you’re not sure about the therapeutic effects of gardening, just ask your kids— digging in the dirt, planting, watering, & weeding, we’ve been gardening with them for years at Mt. Lehman!

The first movie musical I can recall was the Sound of Music in 1964.  It was so expensive that my mother talked them into letting me in for free if I sat on my sister’s lap, all 39 lbs of me, for the whole movie! My favorite scenes/songs include Doe a Deer, the Goat Herder song, So Long Farewell, and Edelweiss (of course), because they remind us of the family bonds that are built together, through exercise, laughter and in collective love.  My favorite scene is near the end, where they are being chased by the Nazi bad boys, hiding behind the cemetery stones at the Abbey. No Gretl, this is definitely not a good time to sing.  The movie is iconic because it reminds us that in the midst of uncertainty and the shadow of War, there is still hope, and Maria helps teach her family to cope and build resiliency.

Michael Ungar, a keynote speaker at our last conference, and head of ResilienceResearch.org, talks about helping kids (and adults) to navigate & negotiate through family crisis, and especially during a Pandemic. Our federal and provincial governments are doing their best to build systems to support families through health, economic and social distress; our roles as families is to be relevant to Place and Culture, ie. practicing and sharing things that are familiar and make your family distinct.  Going on socially-distanced family hikes, attending virtual religious ceremonies, banging pots at 7 pm each night, baking bread, and making a song video together—these are events we can continue to do that build family culture and a sense of belonging.  Even in these crazy times.

Take Care, Stay Safe, and Keep Your Distance.

Abby Chan

Ps. Spoiler alert – there’s a School District music video coming out next week that a few of us volunteered to be in.  Look for it!