Sycamore Leaf

September 26, 2020

Principal's Message

This week, we move into October! We will have completed our first month in distance learning. From my vantage point, I'd say we've accomplished a great deal! Most of us have begun to get to know our teachers, the essentials of our schedules and developed at least a basic knowledge for the tools of distance learning. We've been able to meet these goals due to the significant sacrifice and concerted effort of our teachers. They have worked quite literally around the clock to prepare a comprehensive and engaging learning environment, to continually adapt curriculum to this model of distance learning, and to equip students and families as members of that virtual world. Families, too, have turned their world upside down to meet the demands of learning at home. Their schedules, spaces and minds have become devoted to this all important goal of educating their children. It has been and continues to be a herculean task.

Despite acknowledged challenges, we must also consider areas for improvement. Our school data indicates 95% of students consistently attend synchronous lessons at some time during the day. Unfortunately, about 10% miss some part of the synchronous learning for reasons other than tech issues, and a good number of students aren't consistently completing asynchronous assignments. In short, too many students are missing out on daily instruction. Gaps in learning, misunderstandings about assignments and feelings of frustration are a result, and everyone ends up working harder to make up for what's missed. As staff, we will be helping students meet these demands as we can. Families can help in the following ways:

Prioritize regular attendance for all synchronous learning. Please make the commitment to ensure your child has their supplies at their fingertips and that they participate in all synchronous learning just as scheduled. Avoid errands and appointments during those morning hours. Set alarms for times when they need to be online. Let us know if staff can help by coaching a child-care provider. If you have any questions about when your child needs to be with their teacher, please ask.

Protect time for completing daily asynchronous assignments. Teachers are building each day's lessons with daily instruction and asynchronous practice in mind. The two are linked in thoughtful ways. Preserve the afternoon, as you can, for learning time. Keep a calendar of the office hours and small group times when your child can get additional help. If need be, schedule evening or early morning times when asynchronous assignments can be completed. Tuck shorter learning times into your family's daily schedule. Check in to see that daily tasks are completed and ask your child to talk to their teacher about what's still in progress.

We know that missing lessons and social times can be disorienting and distancing for students. These are difficult times, but we'll need to establish routines that keep learning intact for our children. If you need suggestions or support, please give me a call.

Mrs. Stanger


Goal Setting Conferences

October 5-9, individual meeting time, daily after 1:00 PM

Sycamore's Equity and Inclusion Committee

Monday, October 5 at 6:00 PM (see article for Zoom link)

Materials Pick-up (choose a date/time that works for you)

October 6 from 1:00-4:00 PM

October 7 from 1:00-5:30 PM

October 8 from 1:00-4:00 PM

Governance Council Meeting

October 14 @ 6:00 PM

Goal Setting Conferences, October 5-9

During the first full week of October, we'll hold our annual goal-setting conferences. Students will select goals related to school-based learning and personal interests. With the help of their teacher and an at-home adult, they'll choose actions that move them toward their goal and come up with a plan to monitor their progress through the year. The process of setting goals and monitoring growth allows students to experience the relationship between effort and growth and the value of self-directed learning. Teachers will provide the details on the planning and scheduling of these afternoon conferences.

Materials Pick Up and School Pictures

During the afternoon of October 6, 7 and 8, we are asking families to visit school to pick up materials. This will be a streamlined, drive-through process to get additional materials from your teacher and pick up your student's school pictures. If you did not place an order for school pictures, we'll provide a flyer with information about how you can order online.

Families may come at a time of their choosing from 1:00-4:00 PM daily and until 5:30 PM on Wednesday. Simply drive from west to east along 8th Street. Avoid the red curb and wait in the white zone. Staff will bring your student's materials out to your vehicle. You won't even get out of the car! If you choose to walk to pick-up, please use the markings for physical distancing on the sidewalk along 8th Street, again moving from west to east. If you need an alternate time, please contact Tina Hensley in the school office via email or phone (see contacts listed at the end of the Leaf).

Parent Survey

In an effort to understand and improve the way our students and families are experiencing school, we will regularly collect parent feedback through all-school surveys. The first of these surveys completed yesterday and included 78 responses. I've attached the results of the survey. Click on the gray rectangle below this article.

Already, we can see there are a few areas to work on. We'll be working to make the pick-up process more efficient and smooth. We'll be identifying ways we can improve technology and support for the inevitable tech issues. As a staff, we also want to support families with the process of submitting or checking in on their students' assignments.

For this, I would offer a few general suggestions:

  • I would encourage you to have your student show you how they submit assignments and share how they know it's been submitted. Though parents may be submitting for K and 1st grade students, older students should be developing independence for submitting assignments. If they are unsure what to do, ask them to check in with their teacher during office hours (or do that together) so you both learn the most efficient way to submit. You should be able to follow similar steps as you use your Parent observer role in Canvas.
  • Take a look at this short video on using the Canvas App for parents. It gives specific directions for parents to check in on the calendar and assignments. Keep in mind, this is general information, not specific to your child's Canvas course, so things will look a bit different, but it should be of help.
  • Let's do it together! I'd be very happy to help you find your Parent Canvas login, then explore your child's Canvas page for the flow of activities and assignments. Simply give me a call or email me a few times that might work well for you.

There is still more to learn from this survey. Over the next week, we will contact those who shared their contact as a part of the survey. If you have additional thoughts or concerns, please reach out to me at I would love to help.

School Shirts for School Spirit

One of our favorite ways to spread school spirit is by wearing Sycamore gear! This year's school t-shirt will be a student-created design. All students are invited to share their idea. Submissions should represent our school and be wearable by any K-6 student. Because of the process and costs involved, designs must use ONLY 1 or 2 colors. Students may submit just one design, drawn on an 8 1/2" by 11" page, then scanned or emailed as a picture to by Wednesday, September 30. Please include the student's name and the name of their teacher in the email but not on the drawing itself. The final design will be chosen by a student vote.

Sycamore's Equity and Inclusion Committee

The Equity and Inclusion committee seeks to foster a community where students of all identities, backgrounds, and abilities are valued and embraced. We strive to raise awareness of and provide strategies for creating and sustaining an equitable and inclusive community on the Sycamore campus and beyond, and to help prepare all students to be compassionate and informed people of the world.

The Equity and Inclusion Committee meets the first Monday of the month from 6-7:30pm, and our first meeting of the year will be this coming Monday, October 5th at 6pm. In addition to making introductions, we’ll start brainstorming ideas for the year and begin planning for Ability Awareness Day. The Zoom info is:

Meeting ID: 981 7696 3043

Passcode: equity

If you’d like to be added to the E&I mailing list to receive updates and meeting reminders, please email We look forward to seeing new and familiar faces at our October meeting and to hearing your ideas on how we can work together to ensure that Sycamore is equitable and inclusive for all! -Anthea Kraut and Sharon Stranford, Co-Chairs of Sycamore's Equity & Inclusion Committee

Parent Resources

During our recent Governance Council meeting, we discussed the abundance of resources and webinars available to families. A suggestion was made to summarize some of these most-relevant resources for families. This week, I'd like to share two resources with you.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, students and adults are carrying the weight of change in nearly every aspect of their lives. To meet these challenges, we will need to draw on and develop our social and emotional competencies. That is the reason for this year's increased emphasis on Social and Emotional Learning (SEL). SEL lessons are imbedded in our daily interactions, morning meetings, book reading and literature circles, social-studies lessons, and school-wide traditions such as upcoming goal-setting conferences. SEL competencies include a person's ability to understand and manage emotions, direct themselves to set and meet goals, feel and express empathy, build positive relationships and make responsible decisions. A presentation on the topic of SEL was recently presented to families by CUSD's Dr. Natalie Taylor. The following link takes you to that presentation. A full recording of the presentation is coming soon. I will share that link when it becomes available.

I would also like to offer a resources created by our school's psychologist, Dr. Sheri Frost. It highlights various ways to actively reset oneself, to transition and gear up, if you will, for a difficult or non-preferred task. I would encourage you to take a look at this resource and the very ways we can regulate our bodies, brains and emotions to be most comfortable and productive. Try several and identify the ones that tend to work best for each member of your family.