From the Principal's Desk 3-26-2020
Dear Cresthill Middle School Families,
I just wanted to send you a "quick" email today to touch bases. Like many of you, my day is spent navigating not only the barrage of information and changing conditions, but also trying hard to listen to the jumble of emotions tumbling around within me. My inner emotional barometer can swing from reflective optimism to angry defeatism to sad resignation and back again, all within a single hour! At times I'm scared for us and our near and distant futures, and at other times I'm inspired by our collective communal resilience. And this emotional rollercoaster ride can have the effect of draining my battery and sapping my spirit.
And I don't have a child/children at home any longer like you do! I can only imagine how much more complex your lives are right now than mine; and I offer you my utmost respect. Glib platitudes and vacuous slogans are not helpful right now, at least not in my experience. Human connection is. So my email today is simply meant to be an attempt at human connection from your neighborhood school principal (holed up in my basement office).
We are completing Day 3 of our remote/distance learning "thing." I can't say "plan" or "roll out" because this was never something anticipated, of course. I read somewhere this morning that 90% of all school-aged children in the WORLD are at home with the pandemic. We are trying to re-create public education and retrofit it on the fly, by committee, without the luxury of planning meetings or procuring proper equipment. Again, I can't stress enough how important your grace and patience toward us this week has been.
\We have many reasons to celebrate after only several days. Kids are accessing our remote lessons and devouring them with an appetite we don't always see in the usual routine. Teachers have risen to this challenge like I have never experienced in my 27 years as a public school educator. Daily I video connect with groups of teachers and support staff to "check in" with them, and I have found such strength in their creativity, optimism, and dedication to making this unprecedented work-around... well, work. I am honored to be associated with the professionals I call my Cresthill family.
I also know that we are far away from having the kinks and quirks sorted out. We learn things everyday about what was not helpful and what not to do again. The main thing I find myself coaching my teachers and support staff about is that we are not in any way trying to replicate the learning that would normally be taking place. I would love it if we could do that. But, that is simply not possible given the circumstances. This is not and cannot be "online learning." We can't expect every single child has an operable and connected device available for teacher scheduled virtual lessons - especially in households with multiple students! We are working with a loose definition of "remote learning," which means we are trying to deliver lessons and learning engagements remotely, through a variety of formats, which can be accessed and then completed on a schedule that works for the family routine.
I want to emphasize that right now all of this remote learning is intended to be LOW IMPACT; and I have directed all teachers that we are not at this time grading students on this work nor even keeping track of attendance or work completion. Our kids, the entire nation, are undergoing a tremendous amount of stress with the changes that have arrived suddenly at our door. Our simple goal here is to keep the gift of learning going during these uncertain times, and to provide a necessary and important sense of routine for our young adolescents. If for any reason you are finding the workload overly burdensome on your child or your family system, if you are seeing signs that your child is stressed about completing the work or doing it correctly, or if you just need to change up the routine for the day, you have every right to call an audible and pull the plug on the learning activities for the day. No judgement. No stress. We are partners together in this, and I want to make sure your family's sense of wellness is the first priority.
Lastly for today, if all goes well, our wonderful Multi-Media teacher, Mrs. DeLong will be sending out a Friday morning edition of CANN (Cresthill Action News Network) for your students (and you!) to watch. I hope it delivers some smiles. Hopefully it will remind them that we are all still connected, a Cougar family, and that this too will pass and we will all be together again as a learning community.
Next week I will try to send some tips and ideas for parents and caregivers to help navigate all this time at home with your Quarantweenager. Until then, please know we are doing everything we can to make the best of this situation, and if there is anything we can be doing within all these limitations to help support you, don't hesitate to ask. Much love to you all as well.
Mission and Vision for CMS: Follow this link (coming soon) to get the information on what makes Cresthill tick, on what makes us a "Journey Learning" school.
True North Principles
The Joy of Understanding
A Certainty of Safety
The Gift of Struggle