Dear ESHA Friends,
Instead of sending out our normal March newsletter, it seems appropriate instead to offer you support, empathy, prayers, and hope in this extraordinarily difficult time.
When many of us met at our reception in Philadelphia less than three weeks ago, our mood was upbeat even though NAIS had just convened a session on the coronavirus. We simply had no idea of what was coming.
All of you as school leaders have taken appropriate steps to ensure the safety of your students, families, staff, and communities. As you well know, managing this particular situation was not even or ever contemplated when you took on your jobs as Heads. But you are in your positions, among other reasons, because of your intelligence, common sense, perception, kindness, and fortitude. These traits will bolster and sustain you as you continue to navigate the uncharted waters ahead. I admire all of you for your steady hands and know that you will both endure with patience and wisdom and direct with great care.
As a practical matter, most of you have begun or are in the process of structuring the necessary off-campus educational programs for your students. While your local peers are often the best resources, should you need to reach out to me, or if I can connect you with any ESHA colleagues, please do let me know.
I realize that because of bad timing on my part, our membership dues billings were sent out yesterday. While this was planned some time ago, my head, like yours, has been spinning, and I neglected to delay the date. I apologize for this, and it should remain low on everyone’s priority list.
The many roles of a Head can include those of pastor, psychologist, and prophet. I keep you in my thoughts and prayers as you go about fulfilling these and so many other offices in the coming weeks.
From ESHA President
Dear ESHA Members,
I apologise for the lateness of this communication but I have been working to move my school to online learning. As many of you know this is harder for elementary schools than for secondary schools.
The first recorded case of COVID-19 was in the state of Washington, not too far from my own school. Washington also had the first death. Independent Schools in this area were called upon to make unprecedented decisions long before their public school counterparts. Parents were concerned for their children's safety and school leaders were concerned not only for their students but also for their faculty and staff, many of whom fell into high risk categories.
My school was one of the first independent elementary schools to close in Washington and this decision did not come lightly. My faculty, staff and administrative team took on the work of moving us from an in-person, community school to an online learning school.
Our fourth through eighth grade students were already on a one-to-one program, so teachers began recording lessons, setting up zoom and google meet lessons and communicating the changes to parents.
Our PS through 3rd grade teachers began creating weekly packets of learning for their students. Every day would begin with a video recorded greeting and then students were assigned daily tasks and weekly projects to complete at home.
None of this was easy and the need for collaboration, encouragement and for everyone to lean in was apparent. I am proud of what my school accomplished in a short window and I am happy to support and share our process with all of you. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or just to say hi.