Before I spoke with our Head of School, Mrs. Cole, I sat in the “waiting room,” watching as the second hand on the analog clock ticked, second after second. After 10 minutes and 32 seconds, the door to Mrs. Cole’s office finally opened.
Out came Rev. Allen, probably finishing one of her many meetings that day. When I entered her office and sat down, she briefed me on the meetings and events that would follow my scheduled appointment. First, she’d be watching the Lower School carpool lane. Following that would be her monthly Zoom meeting with the Southern Association of Independent Schools.
Her days are non stop and “no day is ever the same,” she said. This morning, she arrived at 7:30 and caught up on work from yesterday. Then she started planning for the 6th-grade parents. When she wasn’t in meetings she was co-teaching an ethical leadership class.
Mrs. Cole is going on her fourth year working at Lovett. Everything she does is to make sure that Lovett is a great school. Her hope for the years to come is that “we continue to connect and build relationships and that Covid does not get in the way of that. That somehow we are a counter-cultural place where we are loving, respectful, appreciating one another, and...we recognize that we do not all have to agree.”
Operating in these times is hard, she said, because “there is so much meanness out there, people being judgemental and unkind.” Which makes it all the more important that we make the changes we need to in our community and city.
Like for many of us, Covid has impacted Mrs. Cole in positive and negative ways. On a personal level, she got to spend more time with her daughter who goes to Auburn University. She also got to exercise a lot more because she simply needed fresh air and needed to get out of the house.
Here at school, our past experience with virtual learning has enabled her to pivot to an online environment when necessary. The other day when she was speaking at a parent support group, the weather was so bad and only twenty people could make it in person. Fifty people ended up getting online, and she thought the best part about online is that “it has allowed access to people who typically could not be at school for things.”
Mrs. Cole describes herself as a people person, and the pandemic certainly has impinged on her ability to connect with everyone. When Covid hit she had only been at Lovett for two years and thought that it “really slowed down my ability to connect with our community and everything all came to a screeching halt.”
This summer for her was “a whole lot better than last summer because it felt like summer.” She got to take two very special trips that were highlights. She and her husband enjoyed 5 days “off-the-grid” in Mexico, where she could relax and be work-free. She and her daughter also spent 3 days together and had a “mother-daughter trip” in Florida. Both trips gave her memories that will last a lifetime.
Back at home, she watched season two of Outer Banks, and she is eagerly waiting for the next season of Stranger Things. She also loves listening to podcasts like Brene Brown’s Dare to Lead. Mrs. Cole says that podcasts are one of her “ways of learning.”
On the upcoming weekend, she would be staying with her daughter who just bought her first apartment. She was also very excited about the Lovett-Westminster game. I mean who isn’t?
Covid, of course, is still impacting how we do things and how we plan events, and this has led Mrs. Cole to realize that when you make a plan you have to be ready to change it. She loves how “patient and flexible our community is” at Lovett.
Still, she’s really hoping that we won’t have to pivot away from in-person learning. After our hybrid and online experiments, she has concluded that “we were not about being online.” She loves being in person and getting to see everyone and doing what is best for students, all of whom she truly cares about.
And then it was time for me to walk out of her door. When I did so, I took a deep breath. Hearing her schedule made me stressed out. I really don’t know how she does it.