Lucille M. Nixon School

from the principal

May 13, 2020

Dear Nixon Families,


We are over eight weeks into this Covid-19 shelter-in-our-homes situation. How are you feeling? All the novelty of our circumstances has worn off. I wonder when I will get to hold my loved ones who are not living with me. My husband has a wonderful sense of humor, and he keeps offering to show me funny animal videos, but how many crazy cats can I watch? The continuing state of uncertainty is definitely hard for me.


One of the trusted experts I look to for suggestions on how to support students is Angela Duckworth. She is a professor of psychology at University of Pennsylvania, author of Grit, and founder and CEO of The Character Lab. I first encountered her in a TED Talk that she gave back in 2013. She recently shared a couple suggestions in the publication EdWeek for helping students to deal with uncertainty.


I have three suggestions for coping with uncertainty.


First, tell your students that feeling distressed about our inability to predict what will happen in the future is entirely normal. Explain that the need for closure is human, and like them, you, too, wish you could forecast what life will be like in the year ahead.


Second, help your students put things in perspective. You could ask your class to brainstorm: ‘What's the most optimistic scenario for the fall?’ then ‘What's the absolute worst-case scenario?’ and finally, ‘What's the most likely scenario?’ Then ask students to think through how they'd manage in each possibility. They may realize that even in the worst-case scenario, they'd be just fine.


And, finally, consider sharing this quote attributed to John Lennon and, perhaps, a comfort in these challenging times: ‘Everything will be okay in the end. If it's not okay, it's not the end.’ "

(Helping Students Cope With Uncertainty: Advice From a Psychologist, Education Week, May 4, 2020)


I love the quote and I’m thinking of putting it up on my wall! While the advice is for a teacher who likely works with students older than elementary school, I find it helpful for myself. Maybe you will, too. If I can figure out the worst case scenario, I can be ready!

Planning for 2020-21

As I mentioned last week, we are working on plans for the 2020-21 school year. Three scenarios are being developed for elementary schools. These include a continued state of required sheltering at home. We will look at what we have learned about distance teaching and how to improve upon our present practice. A second scenario will be needed if we can return some but not all students to our schools due to limitations from the state or county health department. We would then need to use a blended version of in-person and distance learning. The final scenario we are considering is for the situation in which we are permitted to bring back all of the students with social distancing safeguards in place. We are thinking about what will be necessary to make that work.


Elementary teachers’ input is being gathered this week. Our business office is already busy ordering masks for all staff and students, no-touch thermometers, hand sanitizer, etc. At last evening‘s Board Meeting, Superintendent Don Austin shared that his “Backstage with the Superintendent” webinar on Monday, May 18, 5:30 pm, will address planning for the reopening of our schools. He is hoping to introduce “ThoughtExchange”, a software tool for gathering input. I encourage you to tune in if it works for your family so that you can share your thoughts about our planning for next year. You can join via Zoom​​​​​(link is external). There is plenty of uncertainty, but planning is helpful!

With Gratitude for You!

Thank you for all of the creative and kind appreciations that were shared with Nixon staff last week! Our PTA was very generous and clever with their GrubHub certificates! Each gesture was warmly received and meant a lot! Know that we appreciate you right back!


I'd like to end with a final reminder to reach out if your child is struggling emotionally at this time. You can always contact your child's teacher, and you can also contact our school psychologist, Samira Rastegar, at srastegar@pausd.org. We care and want to help.


Take care,

Mary Pat

Click Here to Check out the Nixon Dolphin Padlet!

Have you seen the Nixon padlet? I am really enjoying all of the postings from Nixon students! Don't forget to add your name unless you really want to be anonymous ;-) !