By Esther Wendel-Caraher

Principal, Kettle Creek Public School

Here we are at the start of 2021 and all I can think of is the word hope.  After a much-needed break from the worries of keeping staff, students and families “safe,” our team arrived back in the saddle ready to pivot into remote learning.  As always, our staff rose way above expectations, and we had a large majority of our students participating to the best of their ability, depending on device access and Internet availability.

While I am thinking that many of us are feeling fatigued when it comes to remaining optimistic these days, today I was reminded of what to do when we hit these low moments.  I remotely “visited” each classroom via Google to say hello to our students and was instantly impressed by the way the children were focused, joyful and delighted to connect with each other.  Their contagious enthusiasm as they participated in the learning and their willingness to make the best of the situation was compelling.

I noticed in that moment that despite everything that we have gone through this past year, and the uncertainty of what we face in 2021, most of our children have remained steady, positive, and hopeful.  I asked myself how it is that they do this and came to the realization that children are very good at living in the moment.  When they are playing, they are there playing.  When they are laughing, they are really there laughing, and when they are upset, you better look out because they are right there in the heart of that emotion.

I wonder if the hope that seems hard for me to access these days lies in the wisdom of those children I met with today.  Rather than staying focused on the past year and what we have gone through, or worrying about what 2021 will bring, these children were just enjoying the space and the moment of the learning they were involved with.  Perhaps like children, we would be wise to stay here, in the moment of this day and just notice and enjoy the here and now as it is, without wishing it to be different or resenting what it is.

An old familiar quote reminds me that, “without hope, the people perish.” This seems like a good time of year to invite us all to “resolve” that in 2021, we will choose to live in hope recognizing that right now, we are safe. In this moment, life and the world are indeed filled with beauty, if we choose to notice. As we look through the eyes of our children, we recognize that this moment is really all there is and when we shift our thinking from the past and future to this moment where we are, a sense of hope and optimism may come.