Now that I have had a chance to catch my breath, I am so grateful for a relatively uneventful summer. Not only are we not scrambling to prepare for the consequences of an unknown pandemic, we are also enjoying unprecedented retention among our faculty and staff. Of the 110 instructional personnel we have on staff, only 6 are not returning next year. Of those six non-returning teachers, one is moving out of the area, one is pursuing an alternative career, one has taken a position closer to his family and three were not retained because of the discontinuation of our cohort model and the return to normal class sizes. It has been a blessing and a reprieve to be able to focus on non-crisis issues this summer.
Typically, I read several books over the summer for both professional reasons and for pleasure. One of the books I am currently reading is The Pandemic Population: Eight Strategies to Help Generation Z Rediscover Hope After Coronavirus. In his book, author Tim Elmore recites the research of developmental psychologist Emmy Werner who studied hundreds of letters, journal entries, and diaries of European children who survived the most horrible conditions of World War II. She then held in-depth interviews with adult survivors to learn about their experiences. Werner identified four major themes of her research that contributed to these adults’ “extraordinary affirmation of life.” Here are the four factors that contributed to resiliency and a positive, hopeful outlook on life:
1. Limited amount of exposure. Children whose exposure to calamity was limited fared better. Too much exposure to sensational media coverage can be harmful to their mental and emotional well-being.
2. Loving caregivers. A caring adult offering support was a game-changer. Adults who can provide clear guidance, emotional support, and encouragement make all the difference in the well-being of children.
3. Calm leadership. The key is for kids to have an adult who continues normal routines that provide security and order amidst what may feel like chaos. Recent research finds that the presence of a calm adult can even reduce levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, in a child’s body.
4. Higher calling. Adult leaders who embrace faith in a “higher power” were able to guide kids into more resilient responses after a calamity. Having a sense of purpose helps children develop mastery, feel valued, and allows for their confidence to grow.
After reading about these four factors, I concluded that we are extremely blessed to have all four of these conditions present at Legacy Christian Academy. I am thankful that we have many teachers, coaches, and administrators who are loving caregivers, who exude calm leadership, and who model a higher calling through their faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am also thankful that we have policies that limit exposure to outside influences such as prohibiting smartphone use during the school day. Producing graduates who are resilient and hopeful helps us fulfill our mission of “developing strong leaders with biblical convictions who are equipped to succeed in college and beyond.” Thank you for partnering with us to produce emotionally healthy, resilient, and hope-filled young people.
Bill McGee is in his sixth year as Head of School at Legacy Christian Academy in Frisco, Texas. He is a veteran educator who has 40 years of experience serving in public and private schools, including 30 years serving as head of private schools in Texas, Tennessee, and Mississippi.
Legacy Christian Academy is Frisco's preeminent Pre-K through 12 Christian school committed to educating students in a college preparatory environment balanced in academics, athletics, and fine arts–all within the context of a biblical worldview. For more information on Legacy, visit our admissions page.