Monday Notes, Jan 4 2021

Happy New Year!
I sincerely hope you had an amazing break and are feeling refreshed and rejuvenated! I am so filled with hope and optimism as we begin 2021; I know that there are still plenty of challenges ahead, but we will be back together soon rebuilding the Amity community and reconnecting as a staff. Stay positive and forward thinking!

One of the things that gives me great hope is my grandkids, and I have spent a lot of time thinking about them and their future this past year. I hope we’re all thinking about our grandkids (or future kids/grandkids) as we dive into this new year with lots of hope and optimism for their future. What do we want the future to look like, and what are we doing to help make sure it materializes? Lots to ponder and consider, and our role as educators plays a big part!

One of the highlights from my break is that I got to visit with the newest addition to the family for a brief (and heavily masked!) visit. I snapped this shot of Aurelia, captures her personality so well! And yes, she is eating very well!

As we begin the new year here are are a few important notes:
1) As you have all heard by now, the governor has handed over responsibility for re-opening schools to each individual district. Lora has indicated we are aiming for February 15. Hopefully I’ll have an update for you at our staff meeting this week.

2) Staff Meeting this week, Wednesday at 2pm. My Webex room.

3) As we begin the new year I think it is a good time set aside time to meet with each family–a time to highlight what is going well, challenges with their children that may need to be addressed, and celebrate progress. I think this will be helpful for families, but also for you as we officially begin planning for a return in February. We’ll talk about this at our staff meeting this week.

4) I finally got a chance to tour Amity last week and was blown away–it’s looking amazing! In terms of a return to Amity update, I was really hoping to be able to tell you that nothing has changed…however, the contractor has run into a small obstacle. The ceiling tiles have yet to arrive but are due to arrive this week. Once the contractor has the tiles it will take 2-3 weeks to install them. This means we are pushing the move-in date back a few weeks but it is looking like we will be back in before in-person learning starts. I will continue to update you as I have more information. In the meantime, let’s hold off on packing until we know more. Sorry!

5) Lottery Information meeting: We have set February 24 at 5:30pm for our annual meeting with perspective parents. I am hoping to put together a video for parents to watch prior to the meeting and then we can use the meeting, which will be on Webex, as a time to answer questions. I’ll share more information in the coming weeks. In the meantime, please get the date on your calendar. ( Michelle and Stephanie, I’ll touch base with you about this so you’re in the loop)

6) I’d like to tentatively set a date to do Invitations again–Thursday, January 21. We can touch base about this at the Staff Meeting.

7) Belated Happy Birthday to Patti (December 27) and Nathan (January 1)! Hope you both had great days!

8) The following has been circulating everywhere, so you may have already had a chance to read it. If not, it’s worth a few minutes of your time! It was written by Teresa Thayer Snyder, who is a former superintendent in upstate New York.

Dear Friends and Colleagues:
I am writing today about the children of this pandemic. After a lifetime of working among the young, I feel compelled to address the concerns that are being expressed by so many of my peers about the deficits the children will demonstrate when they finally return to school. My goodness, what a disconcerting thing to be concerned about in the face of a pandemic which is affecting millions of people around the country and the world. It speaks to one of my biggest fears for the children when they return. In our determination to “catch them up,” I fear that we will lose who they are and what they have learned during this unprecedented era. What on earth are we trying to catch them up on? The models no longer apply, the benchmarks are no longer valid, the trend analyses have been interrupted. We must not forget that those arbitrary measures were established by people, not ordained by God. We can make those invalid measures as obsolete as a crank up telephone! They simply do not apply. 

When the children return to school, they will have returned with a new history that we will need to help them identify and make sense of. When the children return to school, we will need to listen to them. Let their stories be told. They have endured a year that has no parallel in modern times. There is no assessment that applies to who they are or what they have learned. Remember, their brains did not go into hibernation during this year. Their brains may not have been focused on traditional school material, but they did not stop either. Their brains may have been focused on where their next meal is coming from, or how to care for a younger sibling, or how to deal with missing grandma, or how it feels to have to surrender a beloved pet, or how to deal with death. Our job is to welcome them back and help them write that history.

I sincerely plead with my colleagues, to surrender the artificial constructs that measure achievement and greet the children where they are, not where we think they “should be.” Greet them with art supplies and writing materials, and music and dance and so many other avenues to help them express what has happened to them in their lives during this horrific year. Greet them with stories and books that will help them make sense of an upside-down world. They missed you. They did not miss the test prep. They did not miss the worksheets. They did not miss the reading groups. They did not miss the homework. They missed you.

Resist the pressure from whatever ‘powers that be’ who are in a hurry to “fix” kids and make up for the “lost” time. The time was not lost, it was invested in surviving an historic period of time in their lives—in our lives. The children do not need to be fixed. They are not broken. They need to be heard. They need be given as many tools as we can provide to nurture resilience and help them adjust to a post pandemic world.

Being a teacher is an essential connection between what is and what can be. Please, let what can be demonstrate that our children have so much to share about the world they live in and in helping them make sense of what, for all of us has been unimaginable. This will help them– and us– achieve a lot more than can be measured by any assessment tool ever devised. Peace to all who work with the children!

*January 6: Staff meeting, 2pm
*January 20: Staff meeting, 2pm
*January 21: Invitations (tentative)
*February 24: Lottery Info Meeting, 5:30pm
*March 22-26: Spring Break (always good to have a beacon!)

Here’s to a great week, and great year ahead! I look forward to seeing you all soon!

Monday Notes, December 14 2020

Amity Team,
I hope you all had a fantastic weekend! Just a few more days until a nice long break!

A few notes to get you rolling:
1) Amity visit on Wednesday, 3:30pm! You’ll want to enter from the parking lot and wait outside the studio (it’s the contractor’s office). You’ll need to get a hard hat and vest to go in.

2) Invitations on Thursday, 11:00-11:30. Please remember, if you want to change your offering (different from the first) then please get it into the Invitations document right away and make the change: Invitations Dec 17
I’ll send out communication to families by the end of the day.

3) Tentative schedule for returning to Amity, if all goes as planned–I will update you as I receive updates:
*January 8: Contractor finished
*January 11-15: Move in furniture/boxes, IT department gets phones and internet up and running. More details to come.
*January 18: Our first day on site!

4) You may hear from other teachers in the district that they are supposed to have their classrooms ready for students by January 4. This was a request from Lora Nordquist to make sure schools are ready should we reopen soon after returning from break. From what I understand there is no actual plan for students returning on the 4th. I’ll update you just prior to returning from break. For now, just plan on us being at North Star until January 18 in some capacity or another.

5) As most of you know I’ve not been feeling well; unfortunately I’m still not feeling well and will work from home this week. If you need anything please call or text. This also means I won’t be there for the Amity visit, but I’ve asked Ray to document the visit and send me photos. Bummed not to share the moment with y’all, but out of an abundance of caution I need to stay home.

*December 16: Amity visit, 3:30pm
*December 17: Invitations, 11am
*December 21-January 1: Winter Break!

Here’s to a great week ahead–and, if I don’t see you before the end of the week, have an incredible break! Looking forward to an amazing 2021!

Monday Notes, December 7 2020

Greetings Team,

I hope you were able to get out and enjoy the incredible weekend–yet another in a long string of amazing weekends! My wife Michelle and I (now I have to say “my wife Michelle” so as not to be confused with our new colleague) got out for a great XC ski on Sunday at Meissner and Swampy–perfect conditions!

A few notes to get you going:
1) Staff Meeting this Wednesday, 2pm. My WebEx room:

2) Amity visit on Wednesday, December 16! TIME CHANGE: 3:30pm. This will be a chance for us to get a sneak peak as they near completion of the project. Hopefully we’ll get a definitive completion/move-in date–fingers crossed!

3) Bus evacuation video. Thanks to those that have indicated you shared the video with your class last week. If you’ve shared the video with your class but have not let me know, please do so. If you haven’t shown the video yet, please do so first thing this week and let me know when you’ve done so. Thanks!

4) I know that providing meaningful feedback for all the work that students are turning in can be really overwhelming–I want to help! If you’d like some support providing feedback, please reach out and let me know. I’m happy to take some of this on for you!

5) We have a couple of birthdays this week–Jim on Wednesday, and Matt on Thursday. A very happy birthday to both of you!

6) I’m putting final touches on our hidden talent/silly video and hope to send it out Monday afternoon.

December 9: Staff meeting, 2pm
December 16: Amity visit! 3:30pm
December 21-January 1: Winter Break–No School!

Here’s to a great week ahead!