Dear Saint Francis of Assisi Families,
What a journey it has been! On behalf of myself and the staff at Saint Francis, I would like to reiterate how truly grateful we are for your energy, patience and support over the last several months. Without ALL of us working in unison, a successful closure to the 2019/2020 school year would never have been possible.
Where We Have Been
Our families, staff and most importantly, our students, have done a fabulous job adapting to the circumstance that were thrust upon us so very unexpectedly. Parents were not only forced to navigate changes in individual work environments and finances, they also had to take on an additional role of assisting in the instruction of their children. Students were subjected to a school facility closure, lack of social interaction with their peers, on-line learning and getting used to even more parental involvement in their education. Teachers and Instructional Assistants were forced to abandon a classroom that they worked so hard to make into a comfortable learning environment and engage on-line instruction at the drop of a hat. None of whom had ever been trained on or even imagined that they would have to do. Non-the-less we have all persevered.
Where We Are Now
Our 8th Grade students are winding down and are preparing for a graduation ceremony on June 4, 2020, that will propel them into High School!! Our Kindergarten class is preparing for their own graduation on June 5, 2020, that will commemorate their promotion to elementary school! Our remaining students are busy finishing up their course of instruction, completing assigned work and turning in current and missing assignments.
Our teachers are preparing final lesson plans, grading submitted work, calculating grades, preparing report cards and finalizing plans for the end of the year materials drop off and pick up. Staff is also continuing to meet weekly and sometimes daily to make adjustments as we continue to self-evaluate the individual distance learning platforms employed by each grade.
Administratively I continue to work closely with the Diocese and our accountant to ratify our 2019/2020 budget. We have been sending reminders of balances due and back tracking when discrepancies are identified. I have been reviewing report cards, preparing for graduation and attending zoom classroom meetings. On a bi-weekly basis I have been meeting with the Diocesan Superintendent of Schools and our SFA staff to discuss protocol changes and potential scenarios for the 2020/2021 school year. We remain diligent in our efforts to bringing in and registering new students and families to our SFA family. Lastly, we continue to try to prepare for the 2020/2021 school year amidst all of this continued uncertainty!
Parents and families continue to be busy with work, home and assisting with the end of the school year requirements for our students. Parents are also charged with shouldering the stress of what to expect next year. We have these shared thoughts in common.
Where We Are Going
What to expect next year is on EVERYBODY’s mind. Although this is the most important question as this school year draws near to its end and in light of the everchanging dynamics of Federal, State, Local and Diocesan directives, it is a little premature. What I can say is that we are working diligently to get this answer for you.
In my meetings with the Diocesan Superintendent of Schools we principals have been directed to prepare for one of three scenarios:
- Return to a traditional school year. (Preparation for this standard)
- Return to a modified traditional/distance learning platform. (Preparation for this is not standard and is under way)
- Return to an on-line distance learning platform. (Preparation for this is not standard and is under way)
As mentioned before, throughout the course of our current distance learning platform our staff has been self-evaluating not only our performance while administering this platform but the performance of the portals/technology used to facilitate lesson plans, curriculum, exchange of class work and testing. The Diocesan Superintendent has asked us to put together a “School Site Planning Committee” to address these areas. Through these self-evaluations and initial meetings, we have identified several areas that we are considering making adjustments to should we be forced to begin the 2020/2021 school year under either a modified traditional/distance learning platform or complete distance learning platform. Some of the areas that we will be looking at include the following:
- Amount of entire class Zoom time with the teacher.
- Availability of individual student Zoom meetings with the teacher.
- The use of and ease of navigation to instructional links.
- Means by which class work is assigned and returned.
- Amount of class work.
- Use of a standard school wide learning platform (Google Classroom, SeeSaw, Zoom, FlipGrid, etc.)
- Teacher Office hours.
- Parent Education Classes.
The above list is a sample of the types of issues we will continue to discuss in an effort to build upon the lessons learned this year. The challenges we face are multifaceted. The difficulty of course material for each grade level increases exponentially. Each student has different learning abilities and aptitude for technology. Each teacher may be familiar/comfortable with different platforms. Parents may be familiar/comfortable with different platforms. Some platforms serve as building blocks for more advanced and intricate platforms. Please know that we are committed to addressing these issues so as to allow us to provide the most user friendly and educationally rewarding learning experience for each student and family. Our creative, talented and dedicated teachers have embraced the challenge!
We remain steadfast in our mission to partner with you, our dedicated parents, to educate and form the whole child in the Catholic School tradition. Whatever your child/ren need, I am confident we will be able to deliver.
In the coming days all returning families will be receiving an e-mail containing a link for a new on-line registration process. This process is used by most Diocesan schools and I would like to thank Ms. McMillan for working on this with me to get SFA up with the times! The link will contain not only registration forms but other annually required forms that will need your electronic signature.
As always I pray that all of you are healthy and I look forward to seeing you soon!