The start of a new school year is always exciting. However, this start feels more vibrant, fresher, and more purposeful than any I have experienced. Part of the excitement is the anticipation of getting closer to the Bay Farm experience we all missed last year. However, I am even more excited about our dedicated and talented staff, who has spent the last two weeks learning and planning together in preparation for the upcoming school year. I can say that they are all prepped and ready for a great year ahead.
One of the books all staff read this summer was The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. Gretchen studies the psychology of happiness and uses her daily struggle to teach the reader about achieving more happiness in their lives. As a result of reading this book, the staff at Bay Farm decided to embark on our own “Bay Farm Happiness Project.” This year, we are collectively working on specific actions that will increase the overall happiness at Bay Farm.
I know what you are thinking. My kid loves Bay Farm; they are happy and want to attend school. It is true. Bay Farm students are very happy. We see it every day from Toddler through Middle School. So, if Bay Farm kids are happy, the teachers must be happy too. Our teachers are happy, and they love working with our children. The Bay Farm Happiness Project empowers our staff to identify the things that bring them happiness and unites us around actions we can all take to maintain a school culture where happiness is the norm. This project will be fascinating for our team, one that brings us closer together in the pursuit of understanding our happiness and doing things as a school that positively impacts everyone’s happiness.
And there is so much to be happy about this year. Physical Education is back, so are Drama and Enrichment. The Shop is open, and students beginning in Kindergarten will be visiting weekly to learn how to use various tools to sharpen their design-thinking and innovation skills. The Agriculture program will benefit all of our students through hands-on exploration, and we are creating an indoor Agriculture space so the students can learn and do projects in all seasons and all types of weather.
After a largely maskless summer, it was beginning to feel like COVID was ebbing. Unfortunately, variants and irresponsible human behavior have prolonged the risk. Our absolute focus remains on keeping our children safe and healthy. While we will not be implementing the strict restrictions of last school year, we will have several mitigation factors in place, including universal indoor masking and a test at school program administered by the nurse. These measures will remain in place until public health experts assess the risk to be reduced. In better news, transmission studies conclude that we do not need to wear masks outside, and we will be able to move more freely around campus for special programming. As soon as the transmission data shows it is safe, we will happily discard our masking protocols.
It is important not to assign our adult feelings about masks and mandates to our children in the interim. Last year, we spent the entire school year with masks and much stricter restrictions, and our kids shined. We adults do not like the fact that masks are becoming a normal part of our everyday existence, but they are, and they will not prevent our kids from being happy and flourishing.
Every member of our staff is thrilled to be back and anxiously awaiting the arrival of our kids. It is going to be a fantastic year.