Day of Diversity

On Friday this week, our entire staff will take part in a Day of Diversity! The day will serve as a professional development launching place for the journey we intend to take around inclusivity at ASW. Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice are big themes of the conversations teachers will be having with each other and aligned with strategic work approved by the board in June. Many staff members have stepped forward to lead conversations and idea inquiries into topics related to the belief that ALL students are OUR students and that ALL students belong and are valued at ASW. The PD will help us to investigate inclusion structures and processes to maximize support for students and increase pathways to success for all students. In addition to the teacher collaboration aspects of the day, the staff will engage with a keynote address from Dr. Elizabeth Schoeder, a consultant, and expert in the area of inclusive and affirming education. At ASW we continue to strive to be consistent with our core values and be Accepting, Safe, and Welcoming!

Sports Update under COVID

As part of our mitigation plan at the medium level, we opened the door to talking about local competition for our sports teams. As we discussed this possibility, we reached out to medical advice and confirmed that we would only be able to consider this if we were collaborating with schools that are following the same or similar protocols for community protection like at ASW. Knowing this, some dialog was initiated with the British School Warsaw to discuss the potential for a pilot event that would take into account necessary protocols and provide for a safe opportunity for our teams to compete. We settled on our pilot program focusing on football (soccer).

One of the key agreements is similar to our protocol for our recent parent event at the Marriott with pre-event testing. Both schools have a testing program in place and both are working with Epixpert on this. While there are differences, we have access to the same materials and staff.

Therefore, we are planning for our first soccer match on Monday, October 4, with our HS Girls’ Soccer traveling to the British School and our boys hosting the British School HS Boys’ Soccer at ASW. We are not opening to spectators for this first match, but we are hopeful for outdoor events in the future that will allow this opportunity in a controlled fashion. Coaches and officials will also be vaccinated and tested.

We’re happy to be able to provide this opportunity to students and hopeful of a positive experience as we take measured steps in our overall recovery. No decision on CEESA sports or traveling is likely to come before a December time frame and we will communicate to parents about other activities we might organize along these lines. Looking forward to a spirited match on Monday. Go Warriors!

Parents As Partners

Over the years, much research has been done concerning the importance of the home-school connection in a child’s education. Consistently, this research has confirmed the positive impacts on all aspects of schooling associated with parent knowledge of and support for all aspects of the school experience. Consider the following quote from 1997…

Children learn best when the significant adults in their lives — parents, teachers, and other family and community members — work together to encourage and support them.

Or this one from a 2020 study out of Oakland University…

How engaged families are in their children’s lives, whether at home or in school, predicts their success in school and in life.

Both suggest, as do many others, that the dynamics of the school-home relationship are critical to holistic education and form the foundation of a child’s success. We’ve seen this all around us in the kinds of activities that wrap around our work together in building community. It is through the activities of our parent group and the opportunities to help us build relationships that become a critical component of the overall benefit.

Another point from the 2020 study…

Relationships were woven throughout all focus groups as an essential element in supporting family engagement. Relative to relationships, inclusive activities and communication strongly prevailed as essential elements supporting family engagement.

We are very much aware of this relationship element in our understanding of school success here at ASW. So much so, that we captured it in our Core Values (Without Us All, We’re Nothing) and suggest that we would leave no one behind in trying to enhance these connections and relationships at every opportunity.

You’ve seen one part of this engagement through our Back-to-School nights this week. While encumbered by COVID protocols, we are trying hard to continue reaching out with the information you need to understand what we do in the classroom, but also provide the foundation of building a relationship that serves your child’s needs. Use this as an opportunity to better understand our hopes and dreams for your children and reach out as much as you desire to build that all-important partnership in order to surround our children with learning experiences that bridge the gap between home and school. Ask your questions, share your insights so that we can all work together toward the common goal of accomplishment and pride.

See you tonight at Town Hall – note the modified time of 7:30p in order to accommodate ES Back-to-School Night (see below).

Some Reflection

Erin and Dad

This last weekend, as we offered vaccines to our 12+ students and while we had a traditional staff social event that had been on hiatus during the pandemic, I was also reflecting on the past and watched with interest the memorial moments centered on a tragic historical event. A large portion of our community was engaged in thoughts and reflections surrounding that event and many of us may have been affected more directly through the impact on ourselves, friends, and/or family.

My reflections on 9-11-2001 involve my time as an elementary principal in Buckley, Washington. I received the call from my Superintendent as I was sitting down to breakfast on the West Coast and watch it unfold on television. I continued to my school and began immediately confronting worry and concern while comforting staff members concerned about friends and relatives in the New York area and waiting for word of their safety. Unbeknownst to me at the time, a close friend was in New York on a short business trip and was a few short blocks away from the towers in the midst of the emergency efforts. So, I remember with clarity the day as it unfolded.

But, here’s where the story takes a turn. Later that night, after a stressful day, I was woken to make a midnight trip to the hospital when my wife informed me that my daughter was intent on making her debut. At just after 3:00a on 9-12-2001, Erin Zurfluh entered the world.

So, I’m left with both one of the worst days in memory and one of the best days of my life sandwiched together. On this last weekend, I found myself reflecting on the importance of 9-11 when we all needed to come together, and thereafter, celebrated the 20th birthday of my precious daughter.

I think this may need to be the way we always encounter the most challenging times in life. Our adolescent learners often grapple with the emotional tides that swing from happy to sad in the blink of an eye. Even our youngest students can be crying one moment and the next enveloped by joyous giggles. Something that we thought was devastating often turns to silver linings that bring meaning and renewal getting us past the heartache.

In the end, I just want our community to know that some in our midst were reflecting on the past in recent days and may have shed a tear of sadness. This happens often throughout the year with different nuances depending on the cultural backdrop of your personal story. We should share these moments often, embrace each other in kind regard, and broaden the diversity of our global understanding. I cherish these moments in the true spirit of “Work Together – because without us all we’re nothing.” I’m blessed by your fellowship, enjoy the “bounce back” spirit in the worst of times, and the resilience built through common purpose.

I’m looking forward again to sharing some non-virtual time with all of you on the weekend. I’ll be there, with my umbrella if necessary. We hope for the best in the final days of summer but are always prepared for the worst. (Summer officially ends on September 22!). Dry and happy thoughts, please! See you on Saturday!

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