Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Weekly Blog 6/3

Dear Wines Families,

It is hard to believe we are into June and heading toward the last week of school. Oddly, I don’t have a lot of updates today. Due to the lifting of the Stay at Home Order, we are working on plans at the district level to close down our school buildings. I know many of you have questions about claiming students’ personal belongings, picking up medication, as well as returning items to school such as library books, instruments, etc. I hope to have more clear updates to share over the next couple of days. In addition, the lifting of the order may allow us to modify our plans to wish our 5th graders a fond farewell. Again, more information will be forthcoming as I receive guidance from district leadership.

Virtual Art Night
Thank you to all of our artists as well as Jane Lardo and Joel Wyse for organizing our virtual Art Night!  We have some amazing artists at our school! In today's email I sent a link to the slide show. I've not posted it on the blog to protect our students' privacy. 

That’s all for this week. Please be on the lookout for subsequent updates.

David

Monday, June 1, 2020

Some Thoughts on Current Events

Dear Wines Families,

After the events over the past number of days, I felt it necessary to quickly reach out to our community rather than wait until my weekly Wednesday message. Like many of you, I was struck by the horrific video of George Floyd’s murder and the subsequent protests and violence around our country. I have much in my mind and heart, but I’m struggling to put my thoughts and feelings into words today.

What I can do at this moment is to speak my truth. My truth is that I am a person who can only be described as having White Privilege. I was born into a white, middle/upper class, suburban, highly educated family and I have been able to enjoy the multitude of opportunities that are seemingly bestowed upon people like me. I’ve never been without, never been racially profiled, and never been scared to simply exist. Exist is an important word here. I spoke just today with an African American colleague who shared his experiences of “DWB” (driving while black) and SWB (shopping while black). Today he spoke much more broadly of EWB—Existing While Black. White privilege means I never need to worry about it being dangerous to simply exist.

Like you, I am a parent and I want to share what I have done with my two sons this week as they have had questions about what is happening. I have been explicit with them about their own white privilege. I’ve explained to the best of my ability what that means in a way a 12-year-old can understand. I am using this moment in history to teach my children about their privilege. Not so they can somehow wipe it away—they can’t. Instead, I want them to understand their privilege deeply in order to open their eyes, identify their biases, and become active ant-racists in their lives.

What does that mean for Wines? The pandemic makes this challenging in the short term. Usually during uncertain times at school, we are able to be around the kids, listen to their social conversations, get a sense of their questions/concerns/ideas, and allow for natural discussion to take shape in our classrooms. Our teachers are masterful at managing these class conversations. Not having the opportunity to simply be with students makes supporting them very difficult. I will say that I promise not to let this moment be just another moment that comes and goes. I will be working with staff to ensure that our community of learners are actively engaged in discussions of race and that our community goes beyond our yearly focus on being “kind” and begin helping our students to directly confront practices and actions that at best, marginalize, and at worst, contribute to the harm and destruction of minority populations. And we will confront those practices at a staff level as well.

Thank you.

David

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Weekly Blog 5/27

Dear Wines Families,
Well, I guess it is fitting that even during these unusual times, summer seems to have arrived now that Memorial Day has passed. While I miss school daily, I don’t miss those few days a year when temperatures make it less than pleasant in our school. I have a number of important announcements and reminders today.

AAPS Reimagining
As we all know, school opening for next fall contains a lot of unknowns. Thus, we are engaged both at the district and building level in the process of planning and “reimagining” the school year for next year. We want to be flexible and provide instruction for students in multiple ways based on the situation and guidelines to maintain the health and safety of our students, staff, and families. These include a modified face to face approach, a blended learning approach, and complete remote learning. This planning will continue throughout the summer as the situation with COVID-19 changes. We will need family input in this process. Please look for a district communication soon with an outline of the current reimagine planning as well as a survey to gain your input on this critical process for our future.

Virtual Auction—Classroom Projects
As we all know, our annual auction was canceled this year. While the various items we had planned to auction off simply cannot be part of any auction at this time, the classroom art projects created by our amazing group of volunteers are available and are wonderful. Each year, these projects are a highlight of the auction as become keepsakes from the school year. In working with the PTO and our Auction Committee, we have initiated a virtual silent auction for just the classroom projects. We hope this allows these wonderful items to find permanent homes. For those interested in participating, the auction will open this Friday and will extend until the last day of school, June 12. Look for an email on Friday with more detailed information and directions for registering for the virtual auction.

Good News!
I know we are all looking for some good news during this period. Speaking of the auction, I’m pleased to say that our project to install new playground structure for the lower el playground is in process. Following our successful 2019 auction, a new playground was approved by our PTO. This project was a bit delayed last year, but we did receive final site approval in February. Of course, the project has again been delayed by the school closure. However, we are moving forward and we hope the installation will be completed for the fall. As with everything, COVID has caused construction delays, but we are hopeful to begin soon. Thank you for your patience and for your ongoing support that made this project a reality! A picture of the new structure can be found below.














Virtual Art Night Reminder
Last chance to submit projects for Virtual Art Night. Please email pictures of the projects to WinesArt2020@gmail.com.

All About Coronavirus for Kids and Families
The University of Michigan’s School of Public Health has created a video entitled, All about Coronavirus: A Video for Kids and Their Families. The video was created for children and their families to share what we know about the coronavirus and outline proven public health methods for personal and community protection.
Sharing basic scientific information with children can:
  • strengthen their resolve as they struggle with new, changing, and potentially scary realities,
  • inspire them to continue learning the facts about the epidemic,
  • encourage them to participate actively in helping slow the spread of the disease.

Please go to https://sph.umich.edu/kidscovidresources/ for more information and a link to the video.

That’s all for this week. Be well and continue to stay safe.

David





Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Weekly Blog 5/20

Dear Wines Families,
As always, I hope this message finds you healthy and managing through this unique time in our history. Recently Trish and I have been focusing on the “silver linings” we are finding during these challenging times. A silvering lining for us is the fact that we have been able to have a family dinner together every night. Plus, our boys are not only doing the dishes for every meal but also not complaining about it! We had a great silver lining last weekend. Saturday, I celebrated a birthday and usually we don’t make a big deal out of birthdays in our family. But having it fall on a Saturday and being home without all of our regular weekend activities, it became a birthday weekend! We even had a Zoom birthday party with friends from all over the country. During normal times, those folks would have likely sent me a text (or not) wishing me a happy birthday so we certainly had the silver lining of being with friends from all over—albeit virtually. While I know many of us are having significant struggles, I hope everyone can find at least something positive out of this experience. On to the news of the week:

Virtual Art Night
Thanks to Joel Wyse and parent Jane Lardo, Art Night will go on virtually. Mr. Wyse has posted information on his special area link in the Continuity of Learning Plan. There are project ideas that students can do using materials frequently found in the home. Students are encouraged to do any of these projects. Students may also use their artistic license and work on any kind of art project of their choice. In addition, students can use projects they have already completed this year and have at home. Once they have completed a project or chosen their project, they can take a picture and submit it to WinesArt2020@gmail.com. We hope to collect the projects the week of May 25th.

Nurse Care Corner
Our district nurses have developed a website with resources on COVID, health and wellness for students, families, and staff.  It also includes a google form for parents and families to contact their school nurse.  Below is a link to the site.

Memorial Day Monday
Monday is Memorial Day if you can believe that. Teachers will not be loading content on Monday for next week so it will change slightly the weekly and daily calendars.

I Am With You
Finally, I want to share a link to a very cute video that Robin Moore shared with our staff last week. It sends a great message to everyone in our community that we are all with each other and we care about each other even though we are currently separated. It put a smile on our faces and I hope it puts one on yours too. Please share with your children!

That’s all for this week. Be well and be safe!

David

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Weekly Blog 5/13

Dear Wines Families,
As we find ourselves in mid-May, I’m missing school more than ever. For me, May is the busiest month of the year as a principal. It is a time where we are in full swing with all of the end of the year items (concerts, field trips, M-STEP testing, teacher evaluation, classroom and school celebrations, 5th grade camp, Country Fair, and much more). It’s also a time of looking ahead to fall (Kindergarten Readiness Day, class placement, new enrollment, hiring of new staff, etc.). It is a time of sleepless nights and long days. But it is also a time of better weather, joy, and reflection on how much we’ve accomplished in a school year. I’m finding myself missing this crazy time dearly. While it is still busy and crazy in the “home office”, I miss the feeling of being at school each day. With that said, I’m also finding myself incredibly pleased with the work our kids are doing remotely, the outstanding work of our staff, and certainly the large role of our families in making this time as successful as possible.

Virtual Art Night
Thanks to Joel Wyse and parent Jane Lardo, Art Night will go on! Virtually. On Monday, on his special area link in the Continuity of Learning Plan, Mr. Wyse will post various projects that students can do using materials frequently found in the home. Students are encouraged to do any of these projects. Students may also use their artistic license and work on any kind of art project of their choice. In addition, students can use projects they have already completed this year and have at home. Once they have completed a project or chosen their project, they can take a picture and submit it to WinesArt2020@gmail.com. We hope to collect the projects the week of May 25th.

Report Cards
Everyone should have received an email yesterday with information about accessing your child’s report card from March. The password is the student’s birthdate. Please be sure to use the MM/DD/YYYY format for the birthdate including the slash marks.

Access to Wines
I know that many students have items at school that families would like to retrieve. With the current Stay at Home order, no one is allowed in the building. If and when the order is lifted or modified, I will be in touch about the possibility of access. Obviously, there are multiple variables to contend with here and much to plan in order to allow safe access. I will keep you posted. For now, we will wait until after May 28th or later.

Accessing Online Content
Please do not hesitate to contact your child’s teacher or me if you are having any challenges accessing the online content due to family circumstances, etc. Teachers can also help troubleshoot tech issues as well. Most, if not all, of your tech issues can be fixed by AAPS tech experts. If you have issues, please feel free to reach out. Information below:

Call 997-1222 or email:  family_techsupport@aaps.k12.mi.us

Do You Need Financial Support?
Our amazing community has provided financial support for families at this time. If I have not already been working with you and your family could use some immediate support, please feel free to email me directly or call me a (I provided my cell number in today's email). This support will be completely confidential.

That is all for now. As always, please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns you may have.

David

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Weekly Blog 5/6

Dear Wines Families,
As always, I hope this message finds you and your family healthy and I continue to extend my sincere thank you to those of you on the front lines in our health systems and others who are essential workers at this time. I don’t have many updates today as we seem to have found our “groove” with the new distance learning. Here are the updates:

Thank You!
I want to again thank all of the families and kids who sent in appreciation notes that we sent out yesterday in the special edition of the Wines Times. BIG thanks to Anu Huntley for putting the content together and making the 33 page slide show! I know our staff really appreciated the kind words.

Accessing Online Content
Please do not hesitate to contact your child’s teacher or me if you are having any challenges accessing the online content due to family circumstances, etc. Teachers can also help troubleshoot tech issues as well. Most, if not all, of your tech issues can be fixed by AAPS tech experts. If you have issues, please feel free to reach out. Information below:

Call 997-1222 or email:  family_techsupport@aaps.k12.mi.us

Do You Need Financial Support?
Our amazing community has provided financial support for families at this time. If I have not already been working with you and your family could use some immediate support, please feel free to email me directly or call me (my contact information was included in today's email). Support is completely confidential.

That is all for now. As always, please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns you may have. Thanks for being on this journey with us!

David

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Weekly Blog 4/29

Dear Wines Families,

As always, I hope this message finds you and your family healthy and I continue to extend my sincere thank you to those of you on the front lines in our health systems and others who are essential workers at this time. I have a few important updates today:

Feedback on Forward Learning
Thank you to everyone who has completed the survey regarding the new online/distance forward learning platforms. Whether you filled the survey out or not, we know well that this experience is new for everyone—including our teachers. Overall, it appears that the amount of work assigned is appropriate for a large majority of our students. However, there is also data to suggest that it is too much work for some and data that tells us that it is not enough. We also know that circumstances in your homes change daily. To that end, I want to make sure I touch on a few things. First, please know that EVERYONE in our school and in our state is missing part of the school year. This means we will all be in the same boat when school resumes. So please do not overly concern yourselves with your child’s progress as we will certainly need to examine our curriculum and scope and sequence of learning at all grade levels next year. And as always, we will use our formative assessments of each individual student to support their independent progress. The current work is designed to keep our kids as engaged as possible knowing that this format is not optimal and families have different opportunities to access the content.

If your child is feeling that the work is too much at any given time, please allow them the freedom to take a breath and not stress over the work. Simply do what you can. If your child is seeking more opportunities, please note that in addition to the work assigned by teachers, students have access to Lexia, Dreambox, and in some classes Moby Max. These platforms are individualized to each student. Also, independent reading is critical each day. And don’t forget the various special area activities that are available. I also want to point out that the intention of the forward learning plan is not to replicate an entire seven-hour school day. This is simply not possible at this time. 

If your child has an Individualized Education Plan, your child’s case manager will be reaching out to you this week to help create a Good Faith Continuity of Learning Plan that will serve to help individualize the work for your child based on their individual needs. We will also begin holding remote IEP meetings as well.

Finally, I also know that everyone is craving more face to face connection. Please note that our teachers are also at home. Many have young children and other family obligations throughout the day. In addition, they are extremely busy planning each week’s work and in many cases filming online lessons for the following week. They are also taking part in professional development to support their ongoing growth using the online platforms. In my meetings with teachers, it is clear that they are as busy or even busier now as they were when we were in school. We also cannot provide synchronous learning opportunities as this creates severe inequities for those who cannot participate. Our teachers are holding twice weekly office hours to give more personal attention and most teachers are also hosting regular informal live meetings. I encourage you to have your child participate in the live meetings when possible and know that our staff is continually working together to meet the complex student needs within the limitations of the current format.

Report Cards
To follow up on last week’s message about report cards. Just before the closure announcement, we adjusted the report card distribution date due to snow days. Our teachers needed this time to complete the end of term assessments needed to accurately record student progress.  When the closure announcement was made, our teachers were in the process of completing those assessments. While many of these assessments were complete on March 13th, some were not and this has resulted in some missing information that would normally be included in the March report card. 

Here is what you can expect:
  • Elementary term 2 report cards will be issued electronically on May 10th with clear instructions to our families for how to access, view, and print if desired. 
  • Some areas of the report card will be blank due to missing assessment data caused by the abrupt closure of school. 
  • Given that information may be missing, progress may not be shown in some areas.  
  • Remember that during the closure no formal grades or assessments are being given and teachers are providing feedback to students throughout the closure based on assignments received. Therefore, no report card for Term 3 will be issued.

We are preparing now for a very different summer and fall, one that includes many opportunities to address the learning needs of our students. Stay tuned for more information about summer options coming soon.

Community Resource for Essential Workers
A member of the Wines community wanted to alert our essential workers of no cost wellness consults for essential workers. See the link below.

AAPS Parent Support Groups
Our AAPS school psychologists will be offering weekly parent support groups via Google Meet/Hangouts to support the unique needs of our Ann Arbor Public School parents during the school closure. Parents can pre-register to attend a support group. Below is a flyer with more information and a link to register.





















That’s all for this week. Stay safe and healthy. We are all in this together!!

David