April 6, 2020
Dear YES Families,
The first few days of April certainly lived up to the old "April showers..." saying. I am hopeful that it will "...bring May flowers" sooner rather than later! If promises to be a beautiful start to our school week.
As we begin transitioning to early spring this marks our fourth week of remote learning. Thank you for your continued partnership and support as we work together to provide purposeful and meaningful learning experiences for our students. We continue to reflect on the work and how to continue making it equitable and effective for all students.
I fully recognize that many of our families and staff are dealing with many different difficulties right now that can make daily remote leaning quite challenging. To juggle these responsibilities in such an uncertain time can often feel very overwhelming- as many people have shared with me recently. Parents, if you are experiencing this I offer the same advice that I have given to our staff- please be kind to yourselves.
Many of you may remember that our staff did some training with AJ Juliani last school year on empowerment and innovation. AJ is the Head of Learning & Growth at NextLesson and serves as Faculty for the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education. His latest book, "EMPOWER", is an education best-seller and follows up the award-winning LAUNCH on bringing design thinking into K-12 classrooms. AJ's previous books include "Learning By Choice" and "Inquiry and Innovation in the Classroom: Using 20% Time, Genius Hour, and PBL to Drive Student Success". It is fair to say the time we spent with him has played a role in our planning when faced with this challenge of launching remote learning so quickly.
Over the weekend I shared AJ's weekly blog entry with our staff titled:"This is not online or distance learning". I would encourage you to give this a read. In this article he shares"
"While we are all doing some of that online/distance/virtual learning right now, it is not what this should be called.
This is emergency remote learning.
It was not planned for.
Most school's curriculum was not crafted to be online or distance learning experiences. Most teachers and staff have not been trained in teaching online or through virtual tools.
Most kids and families have not had the opportunity to be prepared for this change in learning.
And yet, here we are, everyone doing their best to make this work.
But, when we call it online, distance, virtual learning we tend to make comparisons to those experiences that were planned for.
I completed my Master's in Global and International Education in an online/distance learning cohort at Drexel University.
The program was planned that way, it was designed that way, and I (as a student) knew what I was signing up for.
It was still difficult to do, even as an adult who had access to all the appropriate technology and resources.
I teach online courses for the University of Pennsylvania GSE Penn Literacy Network. It still isn't perfect and we have issues with each cohort, even after having taught this course online since 2016. I'm still making mistakes as an instructor who has planned for, tweaked, iterated, and constantly improved an online course for multiple years!
So, no, this isn't easy, even when everything is planned and prepared for in advance."
He closes by writing:
"The sooner we realize that there is no instructional manual for this situation, the sooner we can give each other grace to experiment, learn, and iterate to the best of our abilities in the worst of circumstances.
Thank you to all of the educators out there doing the hard work of emergency remote teaching, for all the right reasons, in the most uncertain of times.
As a parent, I appreciate you, and as a colleague, I am inspired by you.
Just as I hope our staff keeps this message in mind to balance their lives during this time it is also my hope that you and your family continue to do the same. Some days are more challenging than others. Again, please be kind to yourselves. Give yourself permission to engage in self-care whatever that might be. If it is a tough day, take a break and come back to it later. And, as always, we are here to help.
Seesaw Classroom Reminder
Just a reminder that students now see their assignments for the classroom, unified arts and instructional support in three different "classrooms". Students do need to check those classes to make sure they have seen their assignments on the appropriate day. I have received a great deal of feedback from many of you that this was helpful and we are pleased to hear that it has been an improvement.
School Supply Care Packages Drop Off
The Yarmouth Covid-19 Task Force has generously put together school supply care packages for K-4 students that are also part of the home food delivery program. There are some kits available at the daily food distribution at Yarmouth Pointe. Kit items include: pencils, pencil sharpener, glue sticks, scissors, markers, crayons, white paper, basic watercolor set with brush and other items that students can use. If your child needs a school supply kit please reach out to me directly to coordinate this and we will make arrangements to get one to you. A huge thank you to the task force volunteers and community members for their work in supporting our Yarmouth students.
YCS Classes with Ms. Pachuta!!!
Ms. Pachuta is working with YCS to offer some live classes! Sign up, log-in and get your movement on! Information to sign up is below:
Yarmouth Community Services : Zoom Class Offerings with Ms. Pachuta
April 6 - April 23- YES Yoga Get Up and Go- FitnessDance Jam- YES Jump Rope
YES Spirit Week Reminder-April 13- 16
Monday, April 13: Pajama Day (nothing like staying in your PJ’s on a Monday morning- although many of our students are already doing this! )
Tuesday, April 14: Hat Day (favorite or fun- any hat will do!)
Wednesday, April 15: Wacky Wednesday (crazy hair and clothes!)
Thursday, April 16: Clipper Day (wear your Yarmouth gear and/or blue/white colors with pride!)
YES Construction Update
Although this has not been the main focus for anyone right now (and appropriately so), construction at YES has not only continued but has kicked into high gear. I have created a slideshow that includes two pictures with the most up to date view of all the changes that have happened these past three weeks. Link: YES Construction Pictures Slideshow. I will add to the slideshow on a regular basis so you can keep up to date on the construction process.
As you look at the pictures, you will note that there is a pile of structures in the side yard between the school and Central Office. All of this will be in the ground soon to help move stormwater or sanitary waste. In the picture that shows the end of the existing school, you can see the entire outline of the footprint of the new addition. The site contractor has excavated to prepare for foundations. You can begin to get a sense for the scale of the new addition and it’s going to be incredible! One photo is labeled to show where some of the future foundations/walls will be. Thank you to Wendi Holden from Harriman Associates for providing the updated pictures and details!
To close, let me put a twist on AJ's message above:
As your child's principal, I appreciate you, and as a community member and fellow parent, I am inspired by you.
Thank you for all your doing to support us and your children. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help support your child's remote learning experience.
Ryan Gleason, YES Principal