Courtyard Conversations: Principal Chris Mayfield

Editor’s note: Courtyard Conversations is a monthly series, which features the school’s staff members, and a topic that is relevant to their lives or work at the school. TRL staff members speak with each month’s subject in the courtyard. For the first edition, TRL editors Lindsey Hughes and Parker Post kicked off the series interviewing principal Chris Mayfield.

TRL’s Lindsey Hughes and Parker Post interview Principal Chris Mayfield. Mayfield talked about the differences in running a school this year. (Olivia Lauter)

Principal Chris Mayfield did not know that around this time last year, most day-to-day aspects of his work would change in a matter of weeks. From block scheduling and students being half-covered faces and squares on a screen to different lunches, the school day operates in a completely different manner than it did in the past. 

“It just really kind of feels like it’s really had an impact on everything,” Mayfield says.

In order for the school to operate with as few COVID-19 cases as possible, Mayfield and other administrators sacrificed time spent in classrooms, checking in on students for time tracing close contact cases. This challenged him, as he changed many parts of his work, focusing on the safety of staff and students.

“I think the thing that I probably will walk away after this year is just the reminder to be flexible. I think I probably was a flexible person.” He laughs, then continues. “But, I have reached new heights of flexibility. And so, I think that’s probably what I’ll carry.”

With many shifts in learning and communication in the past year, Mayfield acknowledges the positive impact of technology. 

“I will say there are some things that I think have been a blessing,” Mayfield says. “One of those is the heavy use of Zooms. That’s something I don’t think we’re going to go back on. I think we’re going to keep doing that, because it just made it so much more efficient.”

With the transition to virtual learning, staff faced the challenge of supporting students in the classroom and at home. 

“Well, I don’t even really think it was my success.” He pauses for a few seconds. “I would say that I think the biggest success is our teachers shifting from just doing the face to face instruction,” he says. “They’ve done a great job of navigating that when nobody really had a playbook for how to do that walking into the fall, so I’m most proud of our staff.”

I think the thing that I probably will walk away after this year is just the reminder to be flexible.”

— Principal Chris Mayfield

As the school year draws to a close, administrators continue to make changes to next year’s operations. Some changes include optional mask use, returning to eight period days and all in-person classes. 

“Well, I don’t have a crystal ball, but I’m really hopeful that the way things are trending is that next fall will look much more like a pre-covid school year than this year has,” Mayfield says. “So that’s really what I look forward to in the fall. What I’m seeing is we need to be prepared to go back to that kind of a more traditional school year.”

Mayfield continues to work with school administrators and staff to ensure that students receive a “traditional” educational experience. He said policies and changes are introduced first with “student in mind” over the comfortability of adults. 

“And really, honestly, I’m proud of our students,” he says, smiling under his mask. “Because this has not been fun for them either. I mean, everything changed for them, too.”