After delays, isolation, and visas, we were, three weeks ago, finally able to set foot in our classrooms for the first time. We hit the ground running. We thought the learning curve would be steep, and then God had plans to throw us in on the deep end.
After just three days at full staff, the Bowens got COVID. For the next eight school days, Jessica and I ran the school. We have one other teacher who teaches the youngest class (3 year olds) on a half-day schedule. Some days (thankfully) she volunteered to stay the full day. Other than that, we had an occasional volunteer to cover lunches. Mostly we were on our own. On top of teaching, we realized right away some of the extra responsibilities we would have for a school of this size: cleaning, running the front desk, and monitoring breaks. Gone are the days of two prep periods and one or two monitoring duties. For most of the last three weeks, we have been on from the moment students arrive to the moment they leave.
Thankfully now, COVID has run its course and Hayley is back in the office. Tom is also able to assist some. Also, Hayley has been able to hire an additional person to help with the front desk, lunchtime, and cleaning. She also plans to hire someone to take all of the cleaning. We won’t have to do everything for the rest of the year, but it did mean that these first few weeks have been packed.
Before our isolation was over, however, our pallet (with all of our books, kitchen items, etc) did arrive! We have been able to unpack everything and our little bungalow truly feels like home now. We still have a few more things to hang to complete the space, but it is quite lovely.
Other than that, here is the most exciting news.
- I started a cooking club at the school.
- Jessica and I co-lead an adult education class at the school on Thursday nights.
- One of the top religious podcasts in the UK has found out about our school and is advertising for us.
- We toured two prospective families, one newspaper reporter, and the editorial staff of a magazine since we opened.
- One of those families has two older students who are past the approved age range for our school (3-11). One is 12 and the other is 15. However, the parents want Jessica and I to privately tutor their kids. I am continuing to work with them to develop a schedule, but if this materializes, it will both provide some extra income and a fun addition to our teaching schedule.
- The staff of the magazine was one of my favorite tours. We had a lot of common ground ideologically and spoke at length about it. They were encouraged to hear of the work we are doing at the school and plan to write an article about our opening. (They also suggested the possibility of being on their podcast).
- I bought a pyrography machine and picked up some scrap wood yesterday, so I am back into wood-burning.
- So many people have bought books for our school library from our amazon wishlist. It has been great to come home most days to another book on our front step.
- We visited our local bookstore (which we have fallen in love with) and found some amazing books! My favorite find, besides the excellent edition of “The Consolation of Philosophy” was a prayer book for schools. It is an ecumenical prayer book that is has an order for morning prayer that changes every school day and is brief and rich. It has been great to pray through that together with the staff of the school each day.
I think that should catch you up to speed! Today we bought tickets for the musical “The Prince of Egypt” for the end of October. I am excited to go see a musical in London again after these five years.