It’s a tough time to be a school administrator.
In many ways, they are caught in a no-win situation during the COVID-19 pandemic as fears from parents, political leaders and health officials of outbreaks, government overreach, teaching obstacles and emotional costs crash into them like pounding waves from all directions.
So what do they do?
Whatever they can.
“I’m focused on teachers, on their success and their safety, on being able to help them do as much as they can do as successfully as they can,” Jaime Sadleir-Holley, the director of literacy for Grades 7-12 for Alpine School District, said Tuesday. “Teachers are so worried about their kids, about making sure kids have the experience they need to have. We are all just worried about each other. We have no idea what is going to happen but as long as there is genuine care and concern, we will be able to address issues.”
The concept of caring for each other was exemplified Tuesday morning when, as part of their 2020-21 kickoff, Alpine School District had administrators participate in the “Fill the Bus” food drive with the goal of gathering donations to stock the many school food pantries throughout northern Utah Valley.
In all, more than 250 administrators gathered approximately 26,600 food items at the district offices in American Fork, donations that were loaded on a bus and distributed to be used to aid those in need.
Sadleir-Holley was part of the committee that organized the food drive and said they saw this as being the best way to make an immediate difference.
“Of all the things we could do to benefit our community, to connect to people, to make sure people have the things they need, we had to do a community food drive,” Sadleir-Holley said. “All of the schools who have food pantries on campus will get a portion of this for their pantry. That way families who are used to coming and having supplies will continue to have those available.”
Centennial assistant principal Kristie Wheeler also was part of the committee and said the basic idea of service was the right direction to go.
“As we were thinking about our theme for the year, ‘One community, one vision,’ we started thinking about what we could do,” Wheeler said. “We couldn’t do some things but we could still help people. We decided it was time to serve. That’s how this came about.”
While the donations won’t fill all of the needs of students, every act makes a difference.
“We are all kind of figuring out as a community — globally even — is that this is one area where our hands aren’t tied,” Wheeler said. “We can just give and take care of people. It’s an honor to be a part of a district that sees the bigger picture.”
Analis Carattini-Ruiz, the director of student educational equity for Alpine School District, said that with all of the divisions going on, the food drive was a way to represent the concept of community.
“Having one community, one vision, is about serving,” Carattini-Ruiz said. “It’s about serving our kids, our communities, everyone. This is a small token, a small example of that.”
The idea of caring is one educators understand intimately, since they are always working to facilitate growth in their students.
This year, however, the administrators are looking to expand the scope of looking out for each other because they know in these tumultuous times, adults also are having a tough time.
“For the first time, the way the adults in our building are cared for is rising to the top,” Wheeler said. “We know our kids are resilient. Because we have fabulous teachers and staff members, we know our kids are going to be safe and protected. We’ve worked since spring to figure out how to bring them back safely. Now we are really worried about the care of the adults, making sure they are doing OK. The teachers aren’t asking that but they are human. They have their own families and parents they are worried about. We want to be mindful of that so that has been a push district-wide.”