The Unexpected Boon of Zoom

New ways of connecting offer a silver lining.
Last Friday, Maria Morales-Kent and Courtney Cronin of the College Counseling Office invited parents of seniors to join a Zoom meeting to connect with one another and to talk through some of the pressing issues facing seniors and their families as they make big decisions about next year in a time of great uncertainty.

When Maria told me about the meeting, I was eager to join in. I wanted to see these parents whom we’ve come to know so well over the years and to hear what they and their kids are going through. 

Maria and Courtney were kind enough to let me tag along, and as soon as faces started popping up in the Hollywood Squares-like “gallery view” on Zoom and everyone began greeting one another with great excitement, I thought, “Why haven’t we done this before?”

I felt the same as I Facetimed for the first time with my cousin from Boston and her kids. We’ve had this technology for a while and yet we’re all using it so differently now. With social distance rather than geographical distance defining who we see and spend time with, we’ve opened our minds to a different kind of connection. Our family has plans next week for Zoom Easter and Passover dinners with relatives and friends all over the country.

This new approach to gathering might be one answer to a question I’ve been considering throughout this year: How do we build a robust and connected parent community at boarding school?

This past fall I started holding small parent focus groups when I was traveling off campus. At each of the meetings, people talked about how difficult it can be to connect with other parents and to truly feel a part of the community. They might see each other only a few times a year and weren’t sure how to reach out. We shared ideas about how Thacher might support them in remaining connected—we talked about Facebook pages and Wechat groups. But we never considered Zoom.

Since Friday I’ve gotten several emails from senior parents expressing how much they appreciated the chance to gather together on that “call,” to talk about all that’s going on, to ask questions, to share ideas for supporting their kids, to connect as parents. I clearly wasn’t the only one left wondering why we haven’t thought of this before.

So, over the next ten days, I’ll be inviting parents, by class, to join together via Zoom, as your kids are doing everyday, so that you can connect with one another and with Thacher, to share  your ideas and questions, or just to listen to those of others. Stay tuned to your email for specific dates and times.

I’m hopeful these gatherings can bridge the distance that always exists between Thacher and our families, and in so doing become one of the unexpected boons of this crisis, something to hold on to even after things return to normal.

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