Dear Shaker Road School Families,

Before we take a break next week for April Vacation, I wanted to touch base with you about our plans for the month of May. We are working hard to plan for remote learning through the end of the school year. Much of this is in the works, so for now I will provide an overview of things to come.

We were not surprised to learn that state officials require schools to conclude the 2019-2020 school year remotely, though we are deeply disappointed. If we could, we would reopen school to conclude the year. Such a move, however, would be irresponsible and cannot happen.

One of the strongest aspects of Shaker Road School is the community of teachers and learners who work closely in small classrooms. Shaker Road School was never designed for remote instruction. Though we have learned a great deal and can provide and deliver instruction remotely, we are not together. Being apart is hard on all of us, as we crave community more than ever. To mitigate some of this separation, we try to gather on Teams and Zoom. Our new Team SRS allows all students and teachers to be part of one Team. Through this we have also had successful school-wide challenges to build cairns, take nature photographs, and create elaborate chalk drawings. This week is Spirit Week, and hopefully everyone is participating. On Friday, we will have a virtual Teacher Talent(less) show. Teachers created videos to carry on the tradition of embarrassing themselves for student fun. We will continue with these activities and add to them next month. The more students participate in these activities, the greater sense of connection they will feel.

Beginning in May, we will gather weekly on Zoom as a school community. This will be quite a challenge, but I believe an important way to gather. Typically, we have monthly Shaker Meetings with grades K-9. Though our Zoom meetings will not be the same, we will attempt to recreate the best aspects of Shaker Meeting, starting with being “together.” Teachers and advisors will assist their students as they learn how to use Zoom. We will not be moving to Zoom for classroom instruction but for social online gatherings. Details will be announced early in the first week back.

On the academic side of school life, the faculty continues to have lengthy conversations about best practices for remote teaching and learning. We also closely monitor all aspects including screen time, motivation, and mental health as we attempt to assess student learning. Our daily conversations with students and parents are key to our success with this challenge. Thank you for your updates. Please contact us with suggestions, questions, and concerns especially at the classroom/teacher level where changes can be quickly made. Sometimes having a check-in with the teacher can help at home. It is important, particularly in the youngest grades, for parents to share with teachers how students are doing. Older students are more able to articulate their progress, but parents should also communicate concerns with advisors.

In our faculty and administrative conversations, we continue to discuss plans for kindergarten and eighth grade graduations, end of year events and activities, grading for report cards, when to retrieve belongings at school, and other pertinent issues for the month of May. Once decisions are final, we will announce them. For now, we will continue with the school calendar as published last August, including April Vacation next week. This will be an important time for students, teachers, and parents to reset and recharge for the last month of school. I hope you continue to enjoy Spirit Week and get a laugh out of the Teacher Talent(less) Show video. I know I did my best to embarrass myself!

Stay well,

Dr. Matt

Matt Hicks
Matt Hicks, Principal