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Hands-On Montessori School
HOMS Update from Emily Miller, Head of School 3/29/20

Good evening, everyone.

I have said this to some already, but…I hope that you are all healthy, happy and sharing some snuggle time with those you love.

We have already had a well attended primary and toddler parent meeting. Thank you to everyone who attended. We had nearly 100% attendance. I had the best of intentions to provide an informative email to everyone and to schedule a zoom meeting for elementary parents this weekend. I will get that done. 

As you know, our guides have been working nonstop (truly) to provide our students and families with a comprehensive learning continuum that maintains its roots in Montessori philosophy and pedagogy given our mandated closure and distance regulations. 

What began a simple solution to 9 days off based on our current school calendar (3/16 -3/20 and 3/23 -3/26) very quickly turned into something very different. As you know, we have been mandated by the Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education to maintain closure and distance learning until (at least) 5/4/20. For anyone interested, our other governing body, the Dept. of Early Education and Care, has yet to communicate with us AT ALL to provide us with ANY information or guidance since this whole thing began - not a single word via email or otherwise. That means, while adhering to the guidelines of the MA Dept. of Education, I am also having to make some decisions completely unilaterally. I am working hard to do this with consideration given to our entire community's mental and physical health. This has been and continues to put an emotional, physical and mental strain on us all. 

With that in mind, I wanted to let you know what we have accomplished so far:

  1. The elementary guides have been providing homework, lessons, feedback and zoom school time since 3/17/20. As of today (and I know that they worked ALL weekend), they have developed a simplified platform for families with a weekly plan though Google Docs and a simplified app for uploading finished work through Seesaw.me. This should provide some relief from the day to day correspondence and general sense of begin overwhelmed. We are also considering one longer  2.5 to 3 hour zoom class meeting in the morning rather than a morning and afternoon based on feedback. This would not all be actual screen time, but it would offer work time whereby the students' access to the guide's screens are off, but the guides/teachers are there after instruction to observe, answer questions and provide feedback- similar to what happens in class. This would relieve parents of some of those responsibilities during the week.  If elementary parents have thoughts or feedback regarding this prior to us scheduling a zoom meeting, please email me. 
  2. Our primary guides had an introductory zoom meeting with students last Friday and have organized and delivered a comprehensive packet to parents that outlines a schedule and plans in addition to providing materials and resources for the week for primary and full day PKE. 
  3. Our toddler guides also had an introductory zoom meeting with the toddlers last Friday and have organized and delivered a comprehensive packet to parents that outlines a schedule and plans in addition to providing materials and resources for the week for our Montessori beginners.
  4. I will meet with our extended day K students at 8 AM tomorrow morning (link to follow) and continue to prepare and deliver a similar comprehensive plan and packet to those families. I put together their "work slot" materials last Friday for individual pick up outside the building and hope that you were all able to get those materials over the weekend. 

What else can we do to help you?

  1. If you or your family has a small/local business who needs help, please send me the link and any text that you would like associated with it. I am working to develop a web page to dedicate to your support.
  2. If you don't have/can't get any materials required for your child's distance learning experience, please let us know and we will do our best to provide it for you.
  3. If you are in need of an extra device due to at home work/limitations, please let us know. We will do our best to pool community resources.
  4. Please let us know if you need any help or clarification with anything we send to you.
  5. I will organize an elementary parent meeting this week (any time better than another for at home working parents?).

What can you do to help us?

  1. Please be patient with us. We are learning and just as emotionally and physically stressed as you are as we continue to work to provide for our community.
  2. Please provide (kind) feedback. We can improve our delivery systems with your help.
  3. If anyone can provide physical support tor resources (thank you to the XXXXX family for the extra copy paper) or labor, printing, material prep for families who are out straight, working from home and trying to be homeschoolers too, please let us know.
  4. We understand many people are working from home. Some are not. We have already lent out one extra device. Perhaps there are families that might have an old device that can be factory reset and given out as a loaner for a student? Please let us know.
  5. Cash flow and April tuition payments: We are a small school and therefore work on a small margin. We are also not a 501c3 (for a variety of reasons that benefit our school). Therefore, we are also not able to generate income from a tax deductible fundraising platform.Tuition for the fall is supposed to begin on 4/20 for families who have chose the 12 month tuition program through FACTS. I cannot, in good conscience, put those figures in without reaching out to you all first. I understand that these are uncertain times for many. That said, I must also ask you all to consider that we need as much financial support as we can gather right now. Our work is taking even more of a toll on our time, effort and energy due to the training, learning, practicing and shift in gears that COVID19 and distance learning has required. Payroll, our lease, and other expenses must still be met each month. Under normal circumstances with April tuition dollars coming into cashflow this wouldn't be a major concern. I am doing my part and will not take a salary until I know that it is feasible. I am also asking families to reach out to let me know if I CAN put in the charges for next year beginning in April as per our contract because it has to be done by 4/10 - OR - if I should defer the charges until 6/1/20. Please let me know this week. 

Finally, in the interest of everyone’s health and overall well being, I have adapted our school calendar so that our guides can continue work to develop plans for the next two months without having to simultaneously “teach.” We will work with our established zoom schedule through this week. Our families and students will have April “vacation” from Zoom classrooms and assignments from 4/6 - 4/10 while we continue to develop our alternative plans, although we will continue to offer them social connection during that time. (more info later) We will come “back to school” on 4/13 and continue our distance learning platform for as long as the mandate continues. 

HOMS has been responsible for the teaching, learning and support of our community for 18 years. Together, we will get through this stronger and better than ever. Thank you all for your kind words of support and continued faith in and support of the work that we do.

With love and appreciation for you all. 
xo "Miss" Em

Copyright © 2020 Hands-On Montessori School, All rights reserved.


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