Working virtually during much of this COVID chapter has forced us as a team to learn new skill sets, to trust each other, to be responsible with minimal supervision, to figure out new ways to connect and produce, and to appreciate community. Since we have been pushed into new turf, everyone has had to experiment and learn new ways of doing old tasks…from teaching students whose faces we see on screens to processing office paperwork, from discipleship to discipline processes. I am so thankful that we serve a Creator God and that we were formed in his image so that creative brainstorming and inventing new ways of doing things reflects HIS character. Being responsibly creative these past six months is one way of worshiping our God!
As we have had to be stretched in multiple areas, I have come to appreciate the variety of gifts that our staff members bring to the table. Our communications team has done wonders to share information clearly and effectively with our parents using emails, videos, diagrams, website updates, and social media posts. Our administrative director has shone in gathering relevant information, analyzing it with multiple charts and graphs, and directing us to make the best decisions possible, after studying various scenarios. He has done an outstanding job of connecting our operations and tech teams with the academic leadership to best serve our students/families with creative technical solutions during this unique chapter. Our human resources team has had to deal with legal paperwork for our staff, with closed government offices and new processes, with empty apartments, since many of our missionary staff taught much of first semester outside of Colombia, and with creative solutions to deal with COVID attendance rules for those on campus. Our occupational health coordinator has not only read countless reports, case studies, and decrees, but has taken the general biosafety protocols and applied them to our unique school situation. Our financial team has individually worked with our families (over 25% are being blessed this semester with special discounts) to help ensure continuity of education with personalized scholarship plans. Our office team has found new ways of dealing with documents, signatures, permissions, book deliveries, etc. Our cleaning/maintenance team has had to double their efforts with all the disinfecting and to learn new routines and priorities. And this is all behind the scene.
The academic team has wowed us with their creativity, diligence, and originality with platforms, schedules, teaching methods, resources, and innovative responses to government regulations. Their perseverance in seeking out ways to connect, teach, and motivate students, despite less-than-ideal circumstances, has been admirable. The sheer time factor of teaching well virtually can be exhausting, and yet, our teaching team has gone above and beyond to help our ECA students keep learning. Our teacher aides have served right alongside and been key elements in keeping our students moving along.
Our Board leadership has had to adjust to virtual meetings, to wrestling with many unknowns, with making compassionate but risky decisions, and with new realities. And obviously, our parent partners have navigated totally new waters, as they have been thrust into new educational roles with their children, supporting them in this home-based or distance learning chapter. Our parents have also been more connected than ever with ECA, as we learn together to face the continually-changing panorama of what education will look like for us during each stage of this COVID chapter.
I am humbled and grateful to serve alongside such a hard-working, resilient, creative, responsible, dedicated, and amazing team. It is said that your team members should be better than you, and I have been deeply aware of the range of skillsets that have flourished during this COVID adventure, talents and knowledge that have been critical to weathering this storm, but that I don’t have. What a gift to know God has brought each team member here for this time. Has it been challenging? Oh, yes! But have we learned to grow with the ever-changing circumstances and to be thankful for the team we have? Definitely, YES!