May/June 2020

Front Page

By Theresa Kelly Gegen

We’re all in the same boat, but we’re not all in the same storm.

How true is that? With the coronavirus pandemic and worldwide health emergency, we are all in the same boat. However, as individuals, parents, students, leadership team members, and resi-dents of Illinois, the storms we face are different. Coping strategies for the emergency depend on many things, including how close to home the coronavirus is hitting, where our loved ones are, how we can support each other, the healthcare we have access to, and how we react to the un-certainties of these truly unusual times. 

Members of the high school graduating Class of 2020, born in the immediate wake of 9/11, are graduating in the midst of a pandemic. Will kids in school today be known as the coronavirus generation? If so, I anticipate Generation C will prove to be resilient, as we entrust these kids to right the ship, stay the course, and carry on. Schools play a considerable role in developing kids like that.

We sometimes forget, as adults, how important school is to children, although we recognize when it’s “gone” how much everyone misses it. Many kids love school, some abide. Depending on the storm, some kids need school. Schools offer safe havens and social studies, meals and mathematics, scholarship and science, lifelong skills and language arts. 

The effort in school districts throughout Illinois, to keep school in students’ lives, is much more than a legal obligation. School districts are stepping up in this emergency, each weathering its own local storm and together learning how to manage, sharing resources, encouraging prob-lem-solving, and celebrating creativity. 

You can read a collection of adapting-to-coronavirus vignettes in this issue of the Illinois School Board Journal. My thanks to all the districts for sharing their stories. We can’t print them all; there are millions.

“We’re all in the same boat, but we’re not all in the same storm” is also true when there’s not a global health emergency. For example, not everyone’s path from high school includes college. Many under-filled careers require skills developed through hands-on technical training as well as classroom learning. And school districts everywhere take seriously the challenge of helping stu-dents find their paths. 

This issue of the Journal has long been slated to feature career and technical education, and thanks to the work of our contributing districts, it does. Contributors not only completed their stories, they also added to them. CTE students and programs are finding a particularly vital role in the coronavirus emergency. Career advisors are proving agile, maintaining student-centered services while moving everything online. 

We also had a few contributors who were, understandably, unable to share their CTE work. We hope to hear from them when the storm clears. In their places, we have a piece from the Center for Public Education, offering a national perspective on the opportunities that abound in appren-ticeships, and another from Advance CTE, reporting the advancing opinions on career and tech-nical education. 

Coping today depends not only on how healthy we can stay, but on how adaptable our homes, workplaces, families, and temperaments are to social distancing. At IASB, we are lucky. Thanks to the work of many, we are providing information, news, and resources to our members, devel-oping new avenues for education, leadership, connection, and conversation. We wish everyone well and look forward to seeing you all again when the storms pass. 
Theresa Kelly Gegen is Editor of the Illinois School Board Journal. Share your stories via email.