As I speak with students, teachers, clinicians, and community members, the expression that I hear more and more often is “the new normal.”
I liked “the old normal.” Yet, in the span of ten minutes, each and every one of us was thrown into disequilibrium, striving desperately to find some balance and comfort in a sea of unfathomable grief. And now, as we try to rebuild, reestablish, and reconnect, there is the realization that there is no such thing as “normal.”
The challenge for each of us is in dealing with the ambiguity and uncertainty that comes with “the new normal.” Around each corner is a new challenge; a challenge that we cannot anticipate. Things that we thought would always be true are no longer true. We must suspend our familiar assumptions and embrace opportunities to shape “the new normal.” Find joy in the things that you used to take for granted. Find wonder in the things that you see every day. Set examples of what you wish to be obvious to others in your “new normal.” Choose to see opportunities in the uncertainty. What may have been true before may be very different in this new context.
One thing that has not changed is how much our staff cares about students. I have received hundreds of emails and notes from students, parents, and grandparents extolling the compassion, support, and understanding of the staff as we deal with this tragedy. The circumstances may have shined a light on these particular qualities, but I can assure you that we have always cared. And we will continue to do so.
Our collective strength and resilience will serve as an example to the rest of the world.