Updated: Jun 22, 2021
It’s hard to believe that it’s been an entire year since our world was turned upside-down due to the Coronavirus pandemic. And like so many other organizations, MCIE was forced to completely change the way it worked, and the way our staff worked, a year ago.
However, amidst all the difficulties of the past year — including how educators and students have struggled with the transition to teach and learn remotely, as well as to decide when it’s safe to return to classrooms — there has been a silver lining for MCIE.
MCIE staff being forced to work remotely was one of those problems that turned into an opportunity, especially because the office was already going in the virtual direction. The pandemic truly made MCIE’s transition to remote work quicker and easier.
While there were obvious learning curves throughout the process, such as finding ways to fill the workday and managing to work alongside family members who were also stuck at home, our staff has a difficult time coming up with negatives to our new normal because there are just so many benefits to working remotely.
The countless benefits of remote work
For much of MCIE’s staff, a large part of the workday over a year ago was spent in the car. Staff members who were directly assisting school districts throughout Maryland were often spending hours of their day driving to and from home, the office, and different schools. Working virtually now allows everyone to work a full day, rather than spending valuable paid time in the car.
Spending more hours of the day working allows MCIE to help more school districts with inclusive school transformation. Every staff member has more time in their day to directly provide services, even if doing so remotely.
For many educators and families who MCIE assists, the online platform works perfectly because it provides more flexibility. And staff have found that their relationships with school districts, although virtual, are just as strong now as they were before.
We’ve even noticed that, as a staff, our relationships have grown with each other. We actually spend more time collaborating virtually than we ever spent together when in the office. Time together now is much more intentional and well-spent than it was before.
And no one can deny how much better the work-life balance has been. A year of struggles has also brought a year of more time with family and more time to take a break from the hustle and bustle of it all. Plus, we love being able to do laundry while we work.
On top of it all, one of the most positive aspects of our home offices is that MCIE has the ability to provide services outside of Maryland now more than ever, truly opening the door for the organization to expand and grow for years to come.
With the move toward remote working, MCIE was able to hire Tim Villegas, who lives in Georgia, as their Director of Communications. This allowed for Think Inclusive to become a part of MCIE. He credits the pandemic as a major reason why he was able to accept the position. In the future, as MCIE increases its national presence, we will be able to hire from a larger talent pool from across the country to support inclusive systems change in schools across the United States.
MCIE is a nonprofit organization that believes that neighborhood schools should form the foundation for inclusive communities. We are developing free resources to make it easier for families and educators to promote and sustain inclusive education in their neighborhood schools. You can help us to produce these free resources by giving a one-time or recurring donation. Thank you for your support!
Kayla Kingston is the Communications Specialist for MCIE. A recent graduate of the University of Dayton, she loves reading, writing, and supporting all things inclusion.