upper school student on a laptopUpper School Art Supply and Spanish V Text Curb-Side Pick-Up
Sunday, March 22, 12-3 PM, North Entrance
Your teachers will have bundled and labeled materials needed for your art (Drawing, Painting, Ceramics, and Printmaking) classes and/or your upcoming 4th quarter Spanish V class.

by Mark Segal, Upper School director

Some say that you can’t teach an old(er) dog new tricks. Well, as we adjust to our new reality of social distancing, closed businesses, and a run on supplies, I am realizing that we are all able to quickly make adjustments to our everyday lives. This includes instituting virtual school starting next Tuesday, March 24. This will certainly be a change for all of us. Rest assured, however, that since long before the official decision was made, the MPA faculty, administrative team, and I have been working hard to put into place an academic program that will blend well with our already exceptional school experience.

The most important element of our work in this virtual setting will be our collective ability to remain patient and flexible. Our highest priority right now needs to be ensuring the strength and integrity of our community in a time of anxiety and uncertainty. Extra steps need to be taken to take care of ourselves, of each other, and of our relationships. With that being said, we also know the importance of normalcy and routine in our lives, particularly the lives of our students. Established online schools have found that creating a consistent daily academic routine allows students to experience accountability to themselves and their classmates and gives them the opportunity to seamlessly progress through their course work.

Starting next Tuesday, we are asking your children to engage in their daily classes virtually. The first and best source of information will continue to be Schoology as this is how teachers will communicate with them even if they are holding class through another platform (e.g. Zoom, Microsoft Teams, etc.). In Upper School, we will follow the regular MPA A/B-day and daily schedule for all classes (Tuesday is a B day). Upper School teachers will begin class at the regular start times and students are expected to join each of their classes on time (attendance will be taken as usual). Schoology will continue to be the primary platform on which lessons, assignments, materials and feedback is shared and teachers will communicate and update their plans/materials daily by 8 AM.

A few thoughts on what you can do now to ensure that your student is ready for virtual classes on Tuesday:

  1. Determine, as a family, where a good workspace will be for your Upper School student. Classes will be held 8 AM-3 PM and it is important for them to have a spot where they can have their computer plugged in, be present in video and audio with minimal distraction, and have easy access to their school materials (textbooks, notebooks, pens, pencils, etc.). Realizing that for some a shared workspace will be necessary, earbuds/headphones can always be used to limit interruption of the other people working. There will be times that your student will be talking, checking-in, participating in class discussions, etc. that will require active engagement throughout each day.
  2. Please have your student plug in their computer to ensure it is fully charged for their classes and double check that they have all of the materials needed for courses (books, notebooks, handouts, etc.). It may also be a good idea to have a working pair of earbuds/headphones that can be used at times throughout the day to limit distractions.
  3. The teachers and I are working to ensure as much independent learning as possible for your student, in collaboration and consultation with their teachers, in hopes of minimizing the heavy lifting parents have to do at home. As long as your student has consistent, quality internet access, they will be able to login, meet with their teachers and classmates, and carry on with their school day. If this is a challenge for your family, please reach out to me as soon as possible so we can begin working on a solution for you.

The Upper School faculty and I will continue to communicate with you and your children via email, Schoology, and other online technology to update you on school-wide and Upper School happenings. Inevitably, you will have many questions about everything from quarter three final exams and Advanced Placement exams to senior performances and commencement. Please trust that we will be in touch with you as soon as we are able. We are examining all community events in a chronological fashion knowing that we, too, must be patient and flexible. As it pertains to athletics and other extracurriculars, all in-person activities are suspended until we return to on-campus programming.

I imagine that the current news strikes us all in very different ways; maybe differently at various times of the day. This is new territory for us all. Please know that the teachers and I care about your family, are here for you, and that you can continue to lean on the MPA community to support you, just as you always have. I will be available every school day, just as I always am, for students and you to check-in, meet virtually, and work in partnership to support you as we travel this path together.

Rest assured that the teachers are hard at work to ensure that they have meaningful ways to engage your student and to continue to make progress on their curriculum. For the time being, however, please enjoy the final days of your spring break and get some much-needed and well-deserved rest. Read a good book, put your cell phone down, and get some fresh air and exercise.

I will be in touch again on Sunday with even more details and look forward to connecting with you regularly throughout this time. Please let me know if you have any questions at msegal@moundsparkacademy.org.

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