We are so thankful for the parents we have in our community. They persevered through lock down last spring and have trusted us to deliver a strong academic program to their children this school year. We've missed having them on campus this year and look forward to the day when they can return.

We've collected quotes, surveys, videos, photos, and more to give some insight into our parents' perspectives throughout this year.



Jenafer Howard

Grade 5 Parent

Time as an independent family unit without all the external demands on our time and clear focus on the things that really matter.

Carly Lundy Schacknies

Jr. Kindergarten and Grade 1 Parent

A silver lining of the past year has been the opportunity to slow down and explore with our kids. We've hit lots of local trails, tried new crafts and recipes, built major LEGO projects, explored our neighborhood by footer, scooter, and two-wheeler, and had lots of backyard fires (and s'mores). We also got to see first-hand, the creativity and resilience of our kids, and our community (including their teachers), for which we will be forever awed by and grateful.

Laura Velez

Grade 5 Parent

Despite all the challenges that COVID brought to so many people and in some many aspects I am grateful that it happened and allowed us to pause and reconnect with what really matters in life. As a full time working mother I feel incredible blessed for the gift of having been able to spend so much quality time with my children and to have been able to slow down and appreciate things we took for granted before such as nature, nice conversations, renewed creativity and stronger connections with loved ones.

Jen Kuenzig

Preschool Parent

One silver lining of the pandemic is that we have been able to spend more quality time together as a family during the week since we have been working from home. Working from home has also allowed us to get more household chores done during the week. This allows us to focus our weekends on spending time together as a family. 

Helen Saks

Grades 4 and 6 Parent

We've implemented clear 'no screen' times and definitely play more board games!

Jeff Ellis

Grade 5 Parent

I don't think Congressional could have done better. We elected to have Coco work remotely due to her being adopted and our not knowing her family medical history, which had challenges but given the preparation before and actions during each school day, the school operated about as good as can be.  Coco was overall very positive. I think what helped was her ability to connect with her close friends at times during school breaks/lunches/etc, who were also doing remote schooling. Not everything was perfect but I think the attitude of the teachers, staff and the kids made it work. I have a daughter who teaches in a Fairfax County school dealing with learning challenged children and has been teaching with her Master's Degree for over 20 years. The County was trying to do it's best but I could tell in talking to my daughter, who Coco loves, that Congressional was doing much better. So kudos to the school, Dr Gordon, the other leaders and faculty/staff for rising up to the occasion with positive, caring actions. Well done!! 

Rob Wexler & MIchelle Mattox

Grade 7 Parents

The silver lining to us living through covid 2020-2021 is that we enjoyed many family activities and adventures. Just having all our meals together as a family was a bonus. For Christmas we fostered a very sweet and abused Beagle we named Beasley. We have begun the adoption process to make her a permanent addition to our family. In our household there is always an available lap to comfort a pet.

Patrick Min

Early Childhood Parent

While the pandemic put a screeching halt on just about everything (eating out at fun new places, travel, seeing family and friends, etc.) it also gave me the gift of time at home. Pre-covid, I was typically on the road at least one week a month, if not more. The time of covid allowed me to be much more present for so much of change in Olivia's life (she's just 2 and a half now). It's time and moments that I would've only seen snippets of in pictures or FaceTime.

Emily Hughes Ilich

Kindergarten and Grade 3 Parent

I definitely found silver linings in the pandemic.  We had our third child on March 9.  When we went to the hospital, the world was basically still normal.  There were some headlines about the pandemic and concerns percolating in the US about reported cases but we had no idea what was in store!  We got home from the hospital on Friday, March 13 and our older boys got off the bus from Congressional and told us that school was suspended for a month.  That was a real eyes-popping-out-of-our-heads moment (also maybe some words not to be said in front of children). We definitely thought for a while that school would resume and that things would come under control but we obviously came to the realization pretty quickly that life as we knew it was pretty much over.


That said, being at home with a new baby and two kids doing homeschooling, while challenging, had a lot of bright spots.  The older boys had so much more of an opportunity to get to know their baby brother and to interact with him, to see his milestones, to observe what it is like to be responsible for a little human, than they ever would have if they had been at school all day.  In the non-COVID world, the older boys and the babies would have been ships passing and would have barely seen each other.  I credit Finley smiling incredibly early because he constantly had the grinning faces of his older brothers cooing at him and trying to get him to react.  


The other silver lining that was with the shutdown all the activities and events got canceled which meant that Mark and I didn't have to try to figure out how to juggle getting to soccer practice and baseball and nursing and napping a cranky infant.  To have life slow down really ended up making it easier to juggle a new baby in a lot of ways.  I also felt like we "missed out" on a lot less -- I didn't feel guilty for not going to the gym because I couldn't!  I wasn't yearning for late nights out at my favorite restaurant when I should have been catching up on sleep because those restaurants were closed anyway.  I didn't feel the endless mom guilt of having to put all my focus and attention on the baby and missing all of the kids' events because there were no events to miss.  It absolutely was hard and I feel sad for the older boys to have not had activities and events and birthday parties, but they adapted and we got so much great quality time together that we never would have otherwise.


I think looking back on this time for all the tough moments, uncertainty, fear about what COVID could do, I will cherish how much more time and attention I was able to give to my kids and how much more present I was able to be for them in ways that a 150+ day per year travel schedule and work-life definitely did not allow.  

Arati Belle & Vinai Trichur

Grades 5 and 7 Parents

The Congressional team was so impressive in what they did - they kept their heads, made a plan, included parents in the thinking, and carried on, whether switching quickly online or opening in the fall! When the school reopened in the fall, we felt a huge sense of relief, because our kids would experience some sense of normality and connection to the community despite the pandemic. 

During the roiling period, with social justice and differentiated impacts of covid here and around the world taking our attention, we were nevertheless conscious and grateful for the silver linings we had - family, friends, community and health - of which we were all the more deeply appreciative! 

Julie Sara Boyd

Grades 1 and 3 Parent

There was so much to learn this year and I think the theme of learning transcended the COVID experience for our family. We learned that we were enough - as a family, we spent so much time together on walks, on movie marathons, just talking and being together in our home. As a family new to the Congressional community, we realized that our kids learning was foundational to minimizing the trauma of the pandemics we were living in - we didn't focus on what they were missing out on at school from the pandemic. We learned that the student: teacher and the student: student relationships were enough at its core. And I am proud that our children never felt 'without' - the year was full of love - both at home and at school.

Amy M. Wells-Morgan

Early Childhood, Preschool, and Kindergarten Parent

While scary and at times daunting, 2020 was a year full of blessings in many ways. The biggest of which is the extra time that I was able to spend with my family.  Because my work cannot be done from home, I started on a rotation, essentially part time schedule, which was a huge God-send, particularly before the boys were back at school because I was able to be fully present with them while home.  I think that Isaac had one of his best summers in 2020, running around shirtless most of the time and with very little scheduled activities.  That said, it has also been a huge blessing to have them back at school in person, particularly for our kindergartener (Isaac) and preschooler (Ezra).  The social interaction and other skills that they learn from going to school everyday simply cannot be replicated at home and Congressional has done a tremendous job of reopening in a safe and responsible manner.  Absolutely there are things that we have missed -- social gatherings, travel, time with non-nuclear family members -- and we have grieved the loss of more than one family member from COVID, but I try not to lose sight of the many things that we have gained.  Extra time with my boys, particularly at this age and stage of their lives, and freedom to just enjoy the outdoors without an agenda have been gifts. 

Olu Smoak

Grade 2 Parent

The experience has been paradoxical in the sense that while we were removed from family, friends and loved ones, it forced us to be more introspective and reflective about what we really wanted and needed out of life and our relationships. Thus, we couldn’t rely on the masks that perhaps we’d become accustomed to in the past (prestige, affluence, lack of authenticity to ourselves and others) as we were forced to pick up masks of a different type. In this process, we were forced to reckon more with ourselves and get in touch with our families and relish in and cherish what was truly important to us.  In some ways, it equalized things to a degree as I empathized with the stories of those lost no matter rich or poor. Both the “haves” and the “have nots” were equally touched in very tragic and somewhat horrific ways. In other words, it transcended the boundaries of class, race, nation, country, continent, intellect, religion, and orientation.

"I think when COVID hit, we were totally disoriented like probably most parents. I can honestly say it was some of the hardest periods of our lives because we were working two full-time jobs and taking care of two very young kids."
- Selvin, Little School Parent


Ask many people what was positive from this past year and you'll hear a lot of people say they were appreciative of the amount of family time they had. We asked our families to submit photos of quality time spent together. Click the photos to view them larger.

"We were relieved that bimodal was an option for us. Once that was there, we felt the pressure was off."
- Stephanie Smereka, Grade 3 Parent






After accepting the new normal, the Franz family’s thoughts turned to those who could not do the same – people without safe homes or those whose jobs meant they couldn't avoid the risks of the pandemic.



Allyson Judge


COVID Stories is a collection of interviews with community members who talk about living and working during a pandemic. We interviewed Allyson Judge, Gala Chair, to talk about living during a pandemic as a parent and running a virtual Gala.


Jenafer Howard

Grade 5 Parent

The biggest thing I have missed this year is being able to get to gather as a community...I miss seeing everyone!

Emily Hughes Ilich

Kindergarten and Grade 3 Parent

I think the biggest thing I have missed is eating out at restaurants.  Mark and I used to go out on Saturday evenings three out of four weekends a month.  We loved trying new places and having time to spend with each other without work, kid and home distractions. We replaced that with eating out at home -- and while there were some great restaurants doing heroic efforts to recreate their food at home -- it just wasn't the same!  We look forward to comfortably being able to go back to restaurants (we're not quite there yet)!

Jen Kuenzig

Preschool Parent

The biggest thing you we've missed this year as a result of the pandemic is being able to come inside the school and attend school functions with teachers, kids and other parents. We miss that community feel and getting to know everyone in person.

Helen Saks

Grades 4 and 6 Parent

Traveling, no doubt. All our family is overseas so not being able to see them is very hard. I want to hug my mum and see my children want to see their cousins. The distance is very hard in times of the pandemic. And the children have grown so much since summer 2019 when we last saw everyone ...I hope we can get back this summer to England and Europe.

Emma Aubrey

Kindergarten Parent

Graduation! We missed Jr. Kindergarten Jump the Fence because of covid and then there was no graduation from Kindergarten.

Nadia Chartopoulou

Kindergarten Parent

Not being able to see our families who live in Europe has been one of the hardest things of the pandemic. For the health and safety of everyone, we had to avoid traveling abroad. We are a very optimistic family, so the fact that we couldn't travel made us come closer as a family and also we met better the Congressional families as we were all basically in the same boat. 

Rob Wexler & MIchelle Mattox

Grade 7 Parents

Anderson was a bi-modal student up till early January. While he was ready to join his classmates, we were being overly cautious and kept pushing his return date further out to give us more time to acclimate to his return. While the bi-modal experience was wonderful when we first began in March 2020, it took its toll, and we knew we needed to get him back into the classroom and off of online learning. We were very comfortable in sending him back, since we knew the school took all the preventative measures to ensure a safe learning environment.  

During our 11 months of close quarters living, it was an adjustment not only to our household set up but to each of us as individuals.

Melissa Kennedy

Grades 1 and 4 Parent

I missed family gatherings the most.

Olu Smoak

Grade 2 Parent

In the beginning, it felt desolate and isolating because for the first time in a long time, one had to be alone with him/herself and with no real sense of when that might end. One of the silver linings is that it forced us to dig deep to find that inner resilience and remind ourselves over and over, that this too would pass in time. We had to develop that muscle of perseverance and tenacity. While we couldn’t be as close physically, we somehow drew closer by empathizing more with each other's losses and pain in the crises. In this vein, we gained something rich and timeless and glorious and ultimately worth fighting and even dying for: that reservoir of hope that may have remained dormant or untapped or unrealized were it not for COVID. That sense of authenticity, that sense of caring and sharing, and going the extra mile just to make someone else’s life just a bit sweeter and bit better along the way. I think that wellspring, that place, that reservoir is now awakened in all of us and we must answer its call. 

Deirdre Gallop-Anderson

Grade 2 Parent

We experienced loss of beloved family members due to COVID-19, which was difficult.  Although, I will always treasure the time spent, experiences, and memories with my daughters as they virtually learned from home.  They both wanted to share that having the opportunity to see my Sister and Mom in between classes while at home, and family time during the pandemic was something that I will always remember!

We love that several of our classes have been able to involve parents and loved ones in the classroom, even if it can't be in person. ❤️☺️ #mysteryreaders #specialoccassions

Posted by Congressional School on Thursday, October 1, 2020

Happy Halloween! Instead of having our students parade around campus in their costumes, our parents were the ones in the...

Posted by Congressional School on Friday, October 30, 2020