No one will be sorry to see the pandemic end, but two Austin principals on Wednesday said that what they have learned and how their schools have changed will help them as they lead their schools into the future. Principals Alan Stevens of Boone Elementary School and Heather Parmelee of Kocurek Elementary School spoke to The Austin Founders Lions Club and said the benefits they have gained since March 2020 will last a long time into the future.
"Our communication and teacher/family relationships are stronger than ever."
"Teachers have found different ways to differentiate for our learners, and these new tools and skills will serve them well in the future," said Parmelee. "It is so hard to even speak to what that might look like as things are still changing at a rapid pace. We will continue to change as needed for the good of our students and campus communities."
Stevens says that all although this year has been extremely challenging, he is confident that his school and community will be stronger than before.
"This had been a terribly challenging and emotionally exhausting year," said Stevens.
"However, when we are finally past the Covid shadow, we will see the true growth that has occurred."
"We have much ground to make up academically, but on so many other levels, we are greater for this challenge and closer to each other as a community."
Leading schools through tough times has taught both what tough stuff their people and communities are made of.
"I have learned that our teachers, students, and parents are more resilient than I ever imagined," said Stevens. "We have adapted because that is what we have been called to do. Flexibility, a willing attitude, and trust have been our essential tools.
Parmelee agreed, saying technology has played a big part in adapting to the pandemic.
"We have had to learn technology that we didn't know existed and use it in ways that have stretched our thinking," Parmelee said.
"It has also served as a reminder that our students rely on us for so much more than just reading and math."
"We have adapted our schedules, our communications, the delivery of instruction, all of the campus norms that allow our students to be face to face, and so much more."
Heather Parmelee has served the district for the past 24 years. She has been a teacher at Boone Elementary, an assistant principal at Mills, Palm, and Pleasant Hill Elementary school before becoming principal at Kocurek Elementary School in 2014. Parmelee also is on the AAPSA, Austin Association of Public School Administrators representing Austin principals.
Stevens, a third-generation Texas teacher, and principal began teaching at Austin ISD in 1994, where he was a band teacher at Bailey Middle School. Since then, he has served as an assistant principal at Highland Park Elementary, principal at Patton Elementary, and is now the principal at Boone Elementary School.