Will Yeiser, Executive Director
The recent warm weather has been a welcome reminder that spring is just around the corner. After a long, dark, and cold winter exacerbated by the isolation and the daily stress of trying to manage family and work under the “COVID clouds,” a short burst of sunshine and sixty-degree weather feels like a remarkable respite and hopefully a harbinger of what is to come in the remainder of 2021.
A highlight for me these past two months has been teaching weekly ski lessons to a group of students, alternating between the Boys and the Girls programs. As a former ski instructor, it keeps me connected to one of my passions while allowing me to contribute in a meaningful way to the outdoor program. More importantly, though, it creates the opportunity for me to develop connections and relationships with students that would otherwise most likely not exist, especially under the grade-level segregated conditions required to operate a school during a pandemic.
In my most recent ski lesson, one student demonstrated a remarkable level of physical intelligence as she executed textbook ski technique on the slopes. She was mastering ski concepts as a sixth-grader that many of our eighth-grade students still struggle with after three years at FBRA. I called her mother after the lesson to share how impressed I was with her child’s ability and athleticism, and I assumed this child must have grown up skiing with her family and friends. I was shocked and in utter disbelief when the parent shared that she had only been skiing three times prior to starting school at FBRA.
I will not forget this moment during this abnormal school year of altered programming and seemingly infinite new procedures. While the satisfaction and fulfillment of facilitating the growth and development of a student’s character and integrity in an amazing outdoor setting are quite memorable, I will not forget this day because of the sense of normalcy that it created. Our ski program has allowed students and staff to be a part of an incredible shared experience that is not much different than pre-pandemic conditions. I observed students and staff frolicking in the snow on a bluebird day and for a minute, all of the day-to-day COVID concerns seemed to disappear.
This familiar feeling at the end of the lesson reminded me in a powerful way that all of the extra work, stress, and sleepless nights are worth it. We will make it through this. We will continue to persevere and find innovative ways to accomplish our mission and goals because we are all committed to our students’ success, and in the end, we will emerge as a stronger, smarter, and more resilient organization.
Stay safe and strong, and we look forward to a season of change as the “COVID clouds” hopefully begin to lift!