Apr 11, 2020

The Growing Tightness in My Chest

text by

Derek Minakami

photo by

Josiah Kekoanui Patterson

On the eve before Kuhio Day, after two weeks of working 16 hour days, I stopped and felt my feelings deeply. It was two weeks of going morning to evening, hopping from one virtual meeting to the next. Two weeks of quickly adapting to changing directions as we incrementally leaped towards a full month of school facility closure. Two weeks of using the wee hours of the night to frantically craft clear communication for our faculty and staff so that we could effectively plan for two vastly different scenarios. In one, we safeguard everyone’s health should they return to school. In another, we plan enrichment learning opportunities that can be equitably accessed by ALL of our students in case we closed.

After two weeks, I finally could not ignore the growing tightness I felt in my chest.

I shut my eyes tight, took a deep breath in and tried to calm myself. I temporarily set aside the worries about how we would care for our students for whom the school was their safe haven.

I shifted and focused on the gratitude I felt for the teacher leaders, who, despite being on Spring Break, stepped up by helping us plan. One teacher even created websites and multiple training sessions, which were instrumental in supporting her colleagues new to the technology. I visualized the faces of our staff who adapted their responsibilities by weaving in compassion for their teams. I realized then that this kuleana weighing heavily on my shoulders was something I was not to bear alone. A ‘ohe hana nui ke alu ‘ia – Together, we will get this done.