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Editor’s Note: weathering an Unusual School Year

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I write this column each month with the help of prayer and discernment, usually in my office, while the kids are asleep or at school. I always marvel at how God, in the midst of the quiet, provides inspiration as words fill the blank page.

But writing this month was a little different. For one, there was no quiet office. In its place were four young children attempting distance learning. Although each logged in on their individual iPads (thankfully, provided by our school), it was the epitome of chaos.
“Mom! I can’t get my sound to work! Mom, how do I unmute? Mom my teacher sent home a math worksheet and I can’t find it. Mom, where are my earbuds? Mom, my teacher said we have to log back into class in 30 minutes.”

Needless to say, it was far from a typical school day, and all attempts to write were met with constant, frustrating interruptions. I caved to the chaos of the “test-run virtual day,” calling my husband and begging him to come home for lunch so I could have 30 minutes to squeeze in some work.

Later that evening, thoroughly exhausted, frustrated and thanking God that my children were sleeping soundly in their beds, I opened my copy of Magnificat to read the day’s reflection. I am always amazed that what I read seems to be exactly what I need in the moment, and this one was no exception.

“Although Advent is a joyful season, it is also often a season of small trials… These things are not punishments, but preparation … opportunities to be watchful, be alert. Since we do not know when the lord of the house is coming, we need these repeated occasions to exercise virtue…”

Oof. I truly needed to exercise some virtue. And that’s when I began to rethink my day. Yes, it was madness, but my kids each had their own iPad for schoolwork, courtesy of their Catholic school. And this was only a practice virtual learning session: “not a punishment, but preparation.” Our school is small and cautious, which means they have mostly been able to continue in-person learning. And, most wonderfully of all, our school leadership encourages prayers for the sick, prayers for our teachers and faculty, prayers for parents and students.

This school year is less than ideal for everyone. It has trials unlike any we’ve faced in our lifetime. But, as our superintendent, Susie Gibbons, says in this issue: “As in all things, when times are hardest, there are lessons to be learned. Our Catholic schools have persevered, and our children have, in fact, adjusted beautifully.”

During these trying times, may we remember to be grateful for our faith, our schools and the reminder to exercise virtue when things get difficult.

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