I am frequently asked to describe what it is like to be NSBA president in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, or how do I like being a stay-at-home president.

To try to help people understand, I ask them to imagine the following:

Suppose you have spent two years planning a fabulous one-year stay in New York City. You buy a bunch of guidebooks, and you make wonderful plans to see Broadway, The Metropolitan Museum, The New York Philharmonic, Liberty Island, Ellis Island, and Greenwich Village. It is all very exciting for you.

After months and months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags for a long stay, confident that you have planned for every conceivable contingency, and off you go. A few hours later, the plane lands. The flight attendant comes and says, “Welcome to Cleveland!”

“Cleveland?” you say. “What do you mean Cleveland? I signed up for New York City! I am supposed to be in New York. For two years, I have dreamed of nothing but going to New York.”

But there has been a change in the flight plan. They have landed in Cleveland, and there you must stay for one year due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control.

The important thing is they have not taken you to a horrible place. Cleveland is quite nice, and there is much to see and do. It is just a different place.

So, you must go out and buy new guidebooks. And you will meet different people and learn different ways to get around.

But once you catch your breath, you look around and you begin to notice that Cleveland has an orchestra and an art museum. Cleveland also has the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Some people you know have spent a year in New York City, and they have all shared stories about the wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life you will say, “Yes, that is where I was supposed to go. That is what I had spent two years planning for.”

And you think that the pain of that loss will never, ever go away because that dream is a very, very significant one.

But if you spend the year mourning the fact that you did not get to New York City, you may never be free to enjoy the very special and lovely things about Cleveland. And you may not get to fully experience the year in your new surroundings.

As much as we plan for what we believe we can expect, there is no certainty that things can and will go as planned. To put it in simple terms, no one anticipated how this year would unfold for any of us.

So, what do we do when things do not go as planned?

We adapt and we explore new ways of doing things. We focus on where we are and what we originally set out to do.

Then we set about accomplishing all that we can right here and now.

Around NSBA

a boy being tutored at a desk

Black Students in the Condition of Education 2020

The Center for Public Education selected relevant data from the Condition of Education to help school leaders not only monitor the educational progress of Black students, but also rethink what public schools can do better for Black students.