From the Principal's Pen
March 29, 2020
I hope that this past week has been much calmer than the first week and you are now settled into a routine. On behalf of our staff, I want to thank you for your patience as we learn and “boldly go where no one has gone before.” We have appreciated the feedback which has been mostly positive but suggestions for improvement have been welcome as well!
Common themes for improvement across the district centered around the amount of work (equally divided between too much and too little), the type of work (mostly review to date), the struggle with the use of multiple platforms, and a desire for some sort of ‘live’ teaching via video. All of this is really good feedback for us. Let me try to address these issues/concerns one at a time:
Amount of work: We have given the message to our staff that ‘less is more’ as the last thing we want to do is add stress to the current situation. If students require additional work, the staff, when possible, is looking to create assignments that allow the children to stretch themselves with more reading or research. Your child’s teacher will make themselves available to support both students and parents. Please know that they will do their best to return calls in a timely fashion but they are teaching and supporting students so the return call may not be immediate.
The type of work: Distance learning began with lessons planned around review and maintenance. Delivering new content from afar is new for our staff and our students, and it does take some time to build these types of lessons for new learning. We are working on this as we move forward. If your child hasn’t seen new content as of yet, you should see new content this week.
The use of multiple platforms: It is important to note that this is new for parents but not necessarily for students. We have worked hard to use the platforms the students use in their respective classrooms. If you have multiple children this may mean that your children are using different platforms especially grades K-2 vs. grades 3-5.
Live teaching requests: Long term this can be valuable but there are reasons why, right now, we cannot offer this for a whole class at a particular time. There are issues with internet access and bandwidth strength, but also with staff and student availability. With schools and daycares closed, many of our teachers are tending to their own small children while delivering instruction to your kids. Having all students available at one scheduled time from home would also prove to be quite challenging. The staff is experimenting with more videoing as they push out new content, but it will not be live.
The following are Design Rules or the “Must” Do’s for our teachers:
All K-5 teachers must use the K-5 Learning Activity Templates provided to make learning activities available to students and parents.
The entire grade level team (including Specials, Specialists, and Service Providers) must collaborate to complete the one document which will be shared with families.
Teachers must adhere to the instructional times and subject areas listed in each day’s template when planning learning activities.
Minutes and subjects cannot be changed, but students will have the choice to complete the day’s activities in any order they prefer.
Teachers should only use online platforms and technology tools that they have previously used with students.
Ensure all students know how to access any necessary online platforms and/or digital tools. These instructions are being shared with teachers and with families: logging on to Elementary Tools.
Some Important Messages for families about changes you will see this week:
We are prioritizing literacy and numeracy, but this does not mean we care less about the Specials.
The message for specials is to Try to choose one Special each day. Then, aim to spend about 20-30 minutes working on that Special’s activities. (Indicated in the template)
PE has transitioned from scheduled lessons to scheduled PE Brain Breaks, which include fitness videos of our PE teachers (and PE Coordinator Jeremy Boland) personalizing the "Brain Break"
The Distance Learning Student Checklist, which provides some suggestions for how to structure the day, is available on our website. Please continue to provide us with constructive feedback and let us know how we are doing. In addition please send photos of your children working at home and let me know if we can share them on Twitter. We love to see our students working and we love to share that spirit with our entire learning community. Thank you for your partnership! The Julian Curtiss community continues to be amazing! 60 countries, 30 languages, ONE GREAT SCHOOL!
Wishing our families health and wellness!
The first link has books read aloud by our Student Council Co-Presidents Lynn Gulli and Coco Tully, and stay tuned for more from other 5th grade students, and even Mrs. McGuire and Mrs. Brush!
You can also check out stories read by our JC teachers and staff by clicking on this link!
Plans for 2020-2021 School Year
Kindly take a moment to help us more accurately plan for the next school year 2020-2021. Please email Lisa Maniscalco with one of the responses below no later than Monday, April 6, 2020. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Your assistance is appreciated.
Trish McGuire, Principal
Please include the following in an email to Lisa Maniscalco:
Student Name and Grade and indicate one of these options:
My child will be attending Julian Curtiss next year
My child will not be attending Julian Curtiss next year, but will be attending (name of new school)
Our plans are uncertain for next year
Parents as Partners in Distance Learning
Updates on School Closings
Also, please be sure to keep an eye on your email for information from your child's teacher as well as school-specific updates.
Elementary Report Cards
Mental Health Resources
Our counselors, psychologists, and staff stand ready to provide resources if your child is finding this time in their life stressful. If our children do not feel safe and secure, it makes learning that much more difficult. Please reach out to the Mental Health Team at our school - they are here to help.
In case of an emergency, please call 911 or 211 (Emergency Mobile Psychiatric Services or EMPS).
Dial 2-1-1 or 1-800-203-1234 if you or someone you care about are experiencing a crisis or are concerned about someone who might be.
Kids in Crisis - 24 Hour Hotline - (203) 661-1911
Need help? Not sure? Any time of the day or night, there is always a live counselor on the end of the phone. These trained Crisis Counselors are available to provide immediate help and assess services needed to address and work through any situation.
Information About the Coronavirus
Hotline Numbers for residents who have questions about COVID-19:
COVID-19 Testing at Murphy Medical Associates:
1 East Putnam Ave, Greenwich, CT 06830
30 Buxton Farm Road, Stamford, CT 06905
RESOURCES FOR COVID-19: