On Human Connection

I have been thinking a lot this past week about community: how hard it is to maintain our human connections during the pandemic; in particular, how hard it is for families. Your kids are in school at least some of the time (depending on their grade). How are you, our students’ parents, doing?

Psychologists have shown us that social connection can lower anxiety and depression, help us regulate our emotions, lead to higher self-esteem and empathy, and improve our immune systems. When our ability to connect with our village is taken away, we can get more anxious and our health can suffer. Throw in concerns about the pandemic and the state of the union, it’s no secret that American adults are not doing well in general in 2020.

The pandemic, and the lack of in-person connection, is giving us an opportunity to experience community and connection in new ways. It has highlighted for us the essential role that schools play in our communities. We are seeing just how interconnected we are, and that community is a broader term than we may have thought of before. We are sharing the experience of living through one of the more vulnerable times in history. Yet in that vulnerability, I feel confident that Westside School remains steady as a safe and caring community for all our students, families, and staff. I proudly describe Westside as a community school.

And our community continues to offer multiple ways for us to connect. Every week in this Insider, you will see invitations: invitations to WPA meetings, to parent social gatherings, to grade-level coffee talks with me and our Division Heads, to parent teacher conferences, and of course to our amazing creative Halloween Fest, with all of its car parades, scavenger hunts, costume contests and more. For safety, most of these are virtual (but not the Car Parade!), but they show this community’s incredible commitment to stay connected.

To those parents organizing social get-togethers, to those planning Halloween Fest, to all of us going the extra mile to keep our connections alive, I thank you. To those parents who are feeling a little disconnected, I urge you to join in.

I love having brief connections with many of you through a car window. Please know that I'm thinking of you and hope you are doing okay.

Steve de Beer
Head of School

This blog is an excerpt from Westside's October 20, 2020 Insider e-newsletter.