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Beginning a New Year

Well, it has been a summer like no other. Vacation plans have had to be modified or canceled altogether. We’ve had to live with completely altered schedules and in anxiety for our families’ health and well-being. We haven’t been able to hug friends, and in some cases have been prevented from visiting loved ones in nursing homes or hospitals.

Meanwhile, this unprecedented time has given us pause to reflect upon where we are as a human family on planet earth, and who we want to be going forward. The COVID crisis has demonstrated the fragility of the fabric which holds all of us together, whether that be our healthcare infrastructure, our dedicated scientific community, our economic security, or our inter-dependence across national boundaries. But along the way we’ve come to appreciate the simple things in life that we may have previously taken for granted—cooking a meal together, going for a walk in the neighborhood or along a nature trail, reading a good book, playing family games, or returning to a hobby we once loved. Indeed if we didn’t find silver linings and ways to smile and laugh, we might be lost to doom and gloom.

And while all of this has been going on, how we think of “school” has also been changing. Adjusting to distance-learning platforms—when so much of school is about the classroom environment, hands-on activities, interactive projects, student-teacher partnership, and human connection—has been the ultimate challenge. Fortunately, Montessori teachers are by nature and training adaptable and flexible. Our teachers have been hard at work creating a blended model that strives to maintain the best of the OFS experience in new and different ways. We’ve learned new avenues for fostering student engagement, supporting student well-being, and building community. I imagine that some of the things we’ve created we will most definitely want to retain in a post-COVID curriculum.

What this time has also made clear is how committed and resilient our parent community is. We have received so many suggestions and ideas that have helped shape our thinking through this crisis. We’ve also received offers of support in many different forms. And your notes of encouragement have been such a boost as we’ve worked through the summer to put together our educational plan as well as our safety protocols. So from all of us at the school, we want to say thank you!

All that being said we are very excited to welcome our students to the new school year. They are the lifeblood of our school and the reason we are hopeful for our future—I have no doubt they will continue to inspire us with their enthusiasm and zest for learning. In the spirit of Montessori, we will also look to them for their feedback and ideas, as we work to make the daily learning experience as vibrant as ever, even while we adjust to new routines and schedules. 

Looking ahead, I invite you all to remember that we are only one phone call, text, or email away. Our communication and collaboration will be more important than ever. We can capitalize upon our strong partnership between home and school and make the fall semester a time of new opportunities and fresh experiences. We have much to accomplish together as a school and so much “big work” ahead. So with that, I say to everyone: Welcome to the new school year!

Tuesday, September 15, 2020