We invited Cecilia Scott-Croff, the Executive Director of the Borough of Manhattan Community College Early Childhood Center, to share her reflections on the pandemic and returning to her center next week.
Returning to the Early Childhood Center at Borough of Manhattan Community College has created a wave of emotions. Mostly about the children and families we miss so much. I think it is fair to say I have been able to stay connected in many ways to our families and teaching teams. Yet communication hasn’t been without struggles. No struggle, no progress. On a particularly challenging day, I watched myself from my second monitor speaking rather slowly and intentionally due to the multiple miscommunications and perceived slights during the work. I was suffering from exhaustion. Weary from social distancing from families, friends and our teams. Still at a lost about how we got here.
This pandemic has been a monster. I’m ready to say good bye to 2020. Just thinking about what all our families, our children, our loved ones and staff have endured, hiding it behind those screens. The pain, the challenges and the exacerbation it has created in so many. Many nights I have reflected upon my own perceived lack of empathy and guardedness. As directors, some of us have put on many layers to weather these challenging times. We call it self-care, but I call it self-preservation. You can’t save anyone else if you do not place your life jacket on first.
As I prepare myself to return next week, those spirits are awakened in me — joy, sadness and relief. Relief that we’ve made it back. I long for the resurrection of child care centers. I am happy to be back to the place where I started my own higher education. A place where I walked across the West Side highway after working all day. Some nights I didn’t walk – I labored to get there. I lived that mantra, whatever you have to do, walk, crawl or climb, just keep moving forward. Over twenty some odd years ago I graduated, but I can still feel the pit in my stomach as I toiled to get there. Most evenings I barely had enough pocket change to ride public transportation. To purchase a snack to get me through class. Yet I was there at BMCC and very grateful. Grateful for the grace extended to me by my professors, Student Government, summer immersion classes, registrar and bursar. I had no idea at the time I would ever work at BMCC, but even then, the flexibility in program offerings and the location drew me to the school after my plans of going away were dashed by the magnitude of my family life, my finances, and my sense of responsibility.
So, I am grateful for the many families who are returning, entrusting their children to us, whether it is virtually or in person. This lets us know they care; they believe in us. We are doing everything humanly possible to keep their children safe, to keep our staff safe and to continue to support the joy we want children to experience through early education. Early Childhood Centers across the globe are like homes for so many children and families, it is a sacred community. We want to continue to express our gratitude to all the communities: we feel you, walking with us, rooting for us and we long for the day each of you makes it back too!
Cecilia Scott-Croff is the Executive Director of the Borough of Manhattan Community College Early Childhood Center and a 2020 Early Career Scholar in the NYC Early Childhood Research Network.