Charles Smith
Charles Smith
March 31, 2020

Personal Perspectives on Education During COVID-19

Charles Smith
Charles Smith

The following is part of a series of personal perspectives shared by members of our Education Practice about COVID-19’s impact on education in their lives.

Over the past month we’ve all had to focus on our personal and professional well-being in new ways. While the long-term impact of COVID-19 on colleges’ financial stability and potential enrollment reflects growing angst and demands entrepreneurial response, foremost in discussions with clients and among our team is a concern around the mental health of students.

Our teammates have family members who are students ranging from preschool to graduate school. What we are struck by – regardless of their age or grade level – is how unique concerns and responses are proving to be. With that said, there are common denominators and echoes of learning and compassion everywhere. This series explores our stories, as well as those of our families, as they relate to the “new” education experience.

From Charles Smith, Co-Director of CannonDesign’s Education Market

My daughter Devin is a Ph.D. candidate and serves as both a student and teaching assistant (TA). Like most higher education institutions, online delivery of content is not the norm, but is now mandatory to at least to finish the semester. Many professors at her school were assigned a TA (like Devin) to assist in setting up technology and moving content to workable platforms. Her experience with this “upward mentoring” was real-life playing itself out – where younger generations drive progress alongside more knowledgeable, but less technology-savvy faculty. Devin, like many other students, is creating opportunities for herself through acquiring these skills while making a positive impact for her peers, colleagues and school.

For my daughter Mimi, who is a first-year doctoral student in Physical Therapy, the disruption of remote learning is a true hurdle and realizing the potential of online medicine a challenge. Her academic track is all about science, medicine and the body, something that is traditionally taught from a hands-on learning and team-based curriculum. Separation from that as well as her class cohort and the move to online classes has set significantly new social norms. These are potentially scary and unknown paths. But students like Mimi, who possess a clear and audacious image of what the future could bring, can also take this milestone world event to teach and mold them as leaders. In learning how to adjust to her new norm, Mimi can find new paths that lead to greater connections or discoveries. She and Devin are both trying to make the best of the new hand of cards they were dealt.

In speaking with my work colleagues, our home lives have unexpectedly meshed with work duties, which has added pressure on us all. But with that said, I am oddly jealous of those whose loved ones are with them. One morning I walked through our house and spotted one of my favorite books, “Goodnight Moon.” My biggest wish was to lie beside one of my daughters and read it to her, instead of virtually hugging her from 807 miles away. On the plus side, my wife of English descent and citizenship has finally convinced me to start watching “The Crown,” something we may not have done with four people in the house. So, we’re trying to find a balance in enjoying what we have vs. what we’re missing.

As you go about your week, be mindful of creating space for yourself and those around you. Be intentional in organizing your day, and while we are ever more virtual, make the point to stay connected with your children, colleagues and friends. And definitely (and as always), be sure to thank those around you that are leading and helping us all through this strange time.

Please stay tuned for more perspectives from members of our Education Practice.

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