Today begins 2020 which, depending on your point of view, is either the last year of the first decade of the 21st century or the first year of the second decade. But usually when people hear “2020” they think of eyesight. Anyone with 20-20 vision can see well. Anyone with 20-20 hindsight can be annoying who those have to make hard decisions.
I am referring, of course, to a calendar year, which interrupts in the middle of our school year. I thought what better time to look back over our first half, and reflect where we are heading for the second half.
We’ve had some challenges with faculty turbulence during the last two quarters. I watch this measure of the effectiveness of the school very closely and, to the extent possible with faculty personal lives, work hard to ensure stability. Although we have lost two lead teachers this year the average experience of our directors is 6 years in the classroom, and the average for our assistants is 3.3 years. I would have liked to stay with the same team all year, but I think we still have a solid foundation in teacher experience. We also added a Literacy Coach this fall who has brought a new dimension to our curriculum and helps us negotiate the aspects of public education that were unfamiliar to those of us coming from the private sector.
The new Board members took office in November and immediately got to work with their returning members—a harbinger of a good Board year.
I can sense growth from the last school year in our ability to meet the weighty demands of the government. We met several expectations from the Charter Institute that had eluded us the previous year. Even as we learn “public school speak” we try to keep the personal connection we always maintained as a private school—how well we know the children, how frequently we maintain contact with parents. That communication helps create the best learning environment for the children and makes for a comfortable working environment for the staff.
Looking forward to the next two quarters makes me smile. We have found great replacements for the faculty members who left unexpectedly. Because of our three-week breaks the children generally return to school at about the time they get bored being away from their friends, their routine, and the work of becoming who they will be. We’ve planned for our usual, efficient lottery to fill the school for the 2020-2021 school year (already!). Board, PAC, and staff planning is ramping up for an exciting Blue Jeans Black Tie Ball set for 18 April. Before we know it we’ll be gathered around the Baxley Gazebo to honor the students who will be aging up to a new class.
I am looking forward to accomplishing several goals in the next two quarters. First, we will re-integrate the Infant and Toddler classes into the charter school. We may have some adjustments as we learn to work together again, but because we already know each other so well it shouldn’t be too much of an effort. In any case it will make the Montessori experience seamless for parents and children who begin before the Primary years. In addition, we will be working to increase reliance on Transparent Classroom as a means of keeping parents informed. Third, I intend to upgrade technology by adding better iPads for the faculty, who needs them for Transparent Classroom, MEFS, and DERS, and for the students to use for MAP Challenge.
In all, our spring looks to give us much cause for satisfaction seeing children grow in the warm environment of the caring collaboration of teachers and parents. I’m looking forward to it.