Welcome and welcome back!
While they do not fill the actual void, I have cherished the Zoom calls on which I got to see so many of you over the summer. Nothing will truly take the place of being together as a community in person, but seeing all of your faces over the summer was a respite of sorts - an injection of community, a harbinger of our potential. Whether it was Wednesday Wines, school finances, DLP 2.0 or our reopening plans, for me, seeing your faces and names on a screen reminded me of how pleased I am to be a part of this great Aidan community.
If you have been on any of the many Zoom calls this past summer, you are likely already aware of this: the School went into overdrive these last few months. In addition to the many things we ordinarily do between school years, we took on two sizable projects: DLP 2.0 and Reopening.
We spent the first half of the summer looking at the online learning program that we implemented in March and making plans to deliver an even better program in the coming school year. We all hoped we were creating an excellent online program that we would never need yet knowing that we had to be prepared for the possibility. The bulk of this work took place in June and July, and the metrics regarding COVID-19, at the time, were going in the right direction for us to open for in-person learning. I have great appreciation for the teachers and administrators who invested much time, effort, and energy into this project.
The DLP 2.0 Committee included teachers from every level as well as lead administrators. The group met as a whole once a week. Between meetings, they dispersed, working in small groups and by level to pursue assignments and activities such as reviewing survey feedback, interviewing parents, investigating different learning platforms, working with parent focus groups and more. The Committee, as a whole, has focused on schedules that make for better flow, increased individualization and small group work, and increased interaction between students and teachers, assistants, and specials. Much thought also went into the ways students engage in tactile work, one result of which will be materials being sent home to families, materials that complement the online program.
We spent much of the summer in the work of “reopening.” This is a misnomer in that we’ve never really closed. This project focused on the many things we knew we would have to do and prepare for when the public health situation gets to the point that students may be, as safely as possible, welcomed back into the building. The end product of this work is our Reopening Handbook. This handbook was reviewed with the community on a Zoom call this past week, and it will be available online in the near future, although it is likely to be revisited and updated as we get closer to an actual in-person reopening.
It is easy to remain unaware of the many goings on at the School as we all continue to work and live remotely. Regardless, the building has been cleaned, the floors have been buffed and waxed, and the paint has all been touched up. There are new storage sheds on the playground, and we continue to transition the front office into a nurse’s office and make the other COVID-19 facilities changes that are necessary.
Throughout the week of August 31st, all of the School’s employees – teachers, assistants, specials, support and administrators – will be engaging in “Start Up” work, remotely. We will be getting to know our new colleagues, reconnecting, planning, discussing, and reorienting.
The following week, we will be welcoming students back to their classrooms, albeit virtually. The teachers have been preparing and planning for the coming year. We have the hindsight of how challenging it was to put together an online program on the fly. Now, with the preparation that we were able to put into the coming year, the teachers – and all of us, really – are looking forward to children and families having an exceptional experience in the coming year. Likely, there will be hiccups, false starts, and necessary changes. Please bear with us as we continue to make Aidan Montessori School the best place it possibly can be for children.
Here’s to a year that will inevitably be like no other. While I’ve been faulted as an optimist, I encourage everyone for themselves and for their children to see the positivity that still takes place every day. Without stretching our thinking too much, we really can find the good in the challenge.
Head of School