Benjamin Franklin once said, “Energy and persistence conquer all things.” Indeed, in our school’s mission to cultivate loving, serving, thinking students, it certainly helps when those students are persistent! I was inspired to write this piece after gaining some insight regarding exactly one such student last spring, during the COVID shutdown.
Last year was quite a roller coaster! When we decided to shut down for a week in March 2020, our faculty, staff, and administration worked tirelessly to prepare to reopen as an online school. Though we hoped that the change would be brief, it lasted for the rest of the year. During that time, I missed so many things about our school, but I also got some unexpected insights into a few areas that I would not otherwise witness.
One of those areas was my wife Emily’s 4th grade classroom. Emily would teach lessons in the morning in a zoom classroom, and then work with the students on assignments in the afternoon. Often I was downstairs working at the kitchen table, where Emily left her phone charging so it would not distract her class. Sometimes after her class wrapped up around 2pm, her phone would ring and I would pick it up to hear, “Mrs. Fischer, I have one more question.” It was Alana, one of her students, mistakenly thinking that I was my wife.
Alana had transferred in from the School District of Lancaster last year as a 4th grader, and as a result she had some academic catch up work to do. After my wife Emily oversaw her placement testing, I remember asking Emily, “Can she make it at Veritas?” Emily thought that she could, but said that she was going to have to work really hard.
I remember asking from time to time about her during the year. Emily was encouraged by her progress, but then COVID hit, presenting new stresses and challenges to families trying to keep up with schooling in a new format. Like many families during the lockdown, Alana’s parents were juggling working online from home during the school day, while Alana navigated online learning. Did Alana use any of these obstacles as excuses? No! She thrived. She excelled. She worked hard and made up ground.
As the 2019-2020 school year came to an end, I ran the report on honors students and was so excited that Alana earned Cum Laude Honors! I get to sign all the certificates, and that was my favorite one last year!
I asked Alana’s mom, Jeanette, about the impact that making the move to Veritas had on her daughter. Here are her thoughts:
How has being a student at Veritas impacted your child?
Being a student at Veritas impacted my daughter Alana before her first day even began. When she first took her entrance exam, it was noted that she was lagging in math. Alana was discouraged at first, as she always does strive to excel at what she does. Veritas worked closely with her the summer before she was set to begin, and provided a tutoring opportunity. The challenge was presented, and in true Alana form, accepted. She worked tirelessly to grasp the concepts and showed the determination that has always made us very proud of her. It was the first time I believe Alana was truly pushed academically, and after reaching her goal, she learned that with hard work, dedication and focus, absolutely nothing was beyond her grasp.
What is the biggest challenge that your child faced transitioning to Veritas?
It is my belief that the biggest challenge Alana faced when transitioning was honestly taking the leap of faith into something unknown. Alana did not know anyone that had previously or currently attended Veritas. She had to mentally prepare herself to excel in an environment that was completely foreign to her. Much to her (and my) relief, that was very short-lived as she was welcomed by both peers and teachers and continues to thrive.
What has been the biggest unexpected blessing of being at Veritas?
The biggest unexpected blessing was watching Alana truly begin to see herself the way that I always have. Watching her confidence blossom, her academics soar, her untapped potential really nurtured by the teachers and close-knit environment - this has truly been a blessing to witness and be a part of. I truly believe that even in the short time Alana has been at Veritas, she has already learned such valuable and core lessons in life that she will carry with her always.
I am really proud of the work Alana did in her first year at Veritas and I am really thankful for the engagement, vision, and courage that both she and her mother had as they made that “leap of faith into something unknown.”