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Principal Reflection: Emily Castillo Leon, Principal at Ethos Classical – TFA

Principal Reflection: Emily Castillo Leon, Principal at Ethos Classical

July 30, 2021 by TFA Staff

Emily Castillo Leon (Charlotte 2008) the founder and school leader at Ethos Classical shares her reflections as we approach the 2021-2022 school year.

What is your vision for your school year?

After 18 months of nothing but complexity, my vision for the coming year is pretty simple: joyfully return to in-person learning with unwavering belief in what our scholars can accomplish and unprecedented urgency in making that learning happen.

What is top of mind for you as you approach this school year?

Throughout the pandemic, I’ve worked to make decisions that preserve the long-term integrity of our school ecosystem. In a time of crisis, there are so many appealing decisions that have immediate short-term gain but will have negative consequences long-term.

For example, bringing back all of our scholars for in-person learning earlier last year would have had an immediately positive impact on their learning, but would have resulted in long-term erosion of trust with our families and teachers.  That was one of the many hard “ecosystem” decisions we were faced to make.

Moving into the coming year, my focus remains fixed on making decisions that consider the long-term health of our small and mighty school ecosystem as we work to recover and rebuild from the storm of the past 18 months.

What are you most proud of last school year and what are you most looking forward to this year?

Hands down, the unity and cohesion of our school community.  At every juncture, teachers and families have been fully on-board and ready to do whatever it takes to support our scholars. 

In early January, we brought back some of our most vulnerable scholars for in-person learning.  Because of space constraints, we were unable to safely accommodate all families who expressed a need to return.  Over winter break, our leadership team had the not so fun task of calling those families and letting them know that their child would need to remain in virtual learning.  I expected those calls to be tense and challenging.  What we heard instead was resounding support.  Instead of frustration or anger (both very reasonable emotions to have!), over and over again our families said “of course, we are willing to do whatever it takes to keep our scholars safe.” What a gift.

Is there anything that schools, communities, students, families should be thinking about as we approach this school year? Any advice that you would like to share?

Oh gosh, I doubt I have any sage advice that hasn’t already been shared or thought of already.  But I would encourage all of us to enter the year with optimism about what is possible and a deep confidence in our ability to make magic happen for scholars.  We’ve weathered the worst of the storm.  We’ve got this.