This year, my communication with our stakeholders has primarily been through direct emails, not through this blog. There is a reason for this. I felt that an open blog, during this pandemic, had the potential to draw attention to the way Houston Academy had chosen to address the health and safety of our students and faculty. In short, I didn’t want any chance for our health and safety decisions to become political.
So, now, we are a few days away from graduation, and I’d like the world to know: WE DID IT!
We had in-person classes all year – we didn’t miss a single collective day due to COVID-19. Meanwhile, our teachers quickly adapted to provide quality, distance learning for those students who needed it. All of our sports teams finished their season, and most went deep into the playoffs (or won state championships). Again, COIVD was not a major impediment to our success. We had performances. We had Prom. We had the 2nd Grade Luau. We had Mayfair. And now, we are about to have our graduation, indoors, in our traditional location.
Why were we able to do this, while so many other schools stayed closed or had limited in-person educational opportunities? First, I will say that our Leadership Team at the school did an outstanding job planning for and responding to potential crisis situations. They sought out the advice of leading medical experts, in addition to collaborating with other independent schools across the country.
Secondly, our faculty has worked harder than I’ve ever seen a group of professionals work. They had to balance in-person teaching with the needs of distance learners. The technology coordination was a challenge, in and of itself, but teachers also had to struggle with varied assessment, ensuring academic integrity, and maintain curricular scope, pace, and sequence. Truly, it has been exhausting.
Thirdly, our students and families have been absolutely amazing. There is no way that we would have navigated this successfully without our students being careful and compliant and without our families taking our health and safety protocols seriously. In particular, our senior class showed remarkable leadership. Given what these seniors have lost over the last year and a half, it would have been very easy for them to complain and pout. However, they did no such thing. They set a positive tone for the school, and served as an example for all of us.
Finally, we are very fortunate to have such a talented and intelligent health care community here in Dothan. I was able to regularly communicate with local pediatricians, the Alabama Department of Public Health, and the administrators at our local hospitals. Their research-based medical advice allowed us to always say that we were making decisions based on the best information from the scientific community.
In short, I’d like to thank our entire community for helping us navigate this difficult situation. I’ve never been prouder to be a Raider!