One of the families living on the Brentwood campus are the Smiths. Mr Phil Smith is the Allard Assistant Houseparent, as well as one of our fantastic maths teachers. With him is his wife, Dr Maraina Smith who is a family physician, and their three children, Phoebe, Seb, and Ngapera . They plan on growing to a family of seven very soon, as Dr Smith is pregnant with twins. They offer us a unique lens into this adjusted Covid-19 situation.
As the urgency surrounding Covid was climbing during Spring Break, Mr Smith was overseeing the rugby tour in the United Kingdom. When he, the other chaperones, and the forty players left Canada, there were no travel advisories. Mr Smith recounts how the urgency climbed rapidly as the trip progressed, every member coming to wear a mask and gloves. Eventually, Mr Smith and the other coaches shifted their focus from having a great tour to getting the boys home safely. We are all very grateful that they came to this realization so early, and for their hard work in getting everybody home healthy.
As this was all happening, the rest of the Smith family was on vacation in New Zealand visiting Dr Smith’s relatives. Similarly, there were strict procedures to follow as cases grew more numerous. Dr Smith and the three children remained in isolation for most of their stay but were able to have a nice dinner and an enjoyable time anyway. Since the Smiths are not residents in New Zealand, there was a lot of pushback from local people. In the end, they were still able to have a good time and see family.
Spring break over, the family reunited safely back home in Mill Bay for quarantine. Mr Smith feels “really lucky to be on the campus, which is incredible”. They have plenty of space to bike, play baseball, and get lots of outside time. There are countless opportunities for gardening, and despite the Covid-19 concerns, it is always a wonder to see the campus come into bloom. The family is also “grateful for family time” to spend together during this period.
Another adaptation to the COVID-19 procedures involves transferring to online learning through Zoom. Math classes are typically run by watching the students solve problems, and tailoring the teaching to where they are and what they can do. This makes math exceptionally difficult since you can’t easily see the students’ work. Since the students are all in different learning situations, it will take some adapting. Mr Smith has come up with some spectacular ideas to take advantage of online learning. He uses the platform to invite guest speakers to his classes and has alumni from AP Calc classes speak to those students about their experiences. He makes sure to check in with every student at some point in every class. The goal is not to simulate a classroom, but to make use of the advantages of the situation.
The three Smith children have also been learning from home. The family has been sure to include fun, educational activities in their everyday, to keep their minds working. Ngapera, Phoebe, and Seb agree that some of their favorite activities include bike riding and mad science. As a matter of fact, Ngapera has just learned how to bike on her own, which is a huge success! An example of mad science includes an experiment using honeycombs, which sounds very exciting.
In addition to being a mad scientist with her children, Dr Smith has been a family doctor in Canada since 2017. Before then, she graduated from medical school in New Zealand in 2008 and practiced until 2015, before moving to Canada. Given her experiences as a health care professional, and what she knows about the Brentwood community, she has offered some words of wisdom for us.
First, she wants us to know that she understands that it is a difficult time right now, being isolated away from school. She also understands that social distancing is very hard, but also super important. She urges us to maintain good personal hygiene, and follow the public health advice. Dr Smith also articulates that we must be “careful about the decisions moving forward; if we move out of this phase too fast, we risk moving back.”
Finally, Mr. Smith would like everyone to know that “You are missed, and we look forward to seeing you again. Life isn’t the same without you.” Let us all follow Dr Smith’s advice, in hopes of meeting face to face again soon.
Chloe C, Allard ‘21