DECEMBER 16, 2020
Good evening Colonial Nation,

As you know, in-person instruction is currently “paused” as recommended by Governor Carney.  Additionally, all of the current school reopening criteria are in the red, which indicates significant community spread of COVID-19 at this time.  
  • We are continuing to plan for the safe return of Colonial students after the winter break.  Factors that impact this decision include:     
  • Positive staff cases and close contacts which impact the operations of the district.
    • In-person instruction cannot operate unless there is an adequate level of personnel available.  This includes administrators, teachers, paraprofessionals, custodians, nutrition services workers, bus drivers, and other support staff.
  • Positive student cases and DPH quarantines which necessitate pausing in-person classroom instruction.   
  • A potential spike in positive COVID-19 cases in early January which may occur following the winter break.
  • The guidance and data coming from DPH and other State agencies that we use to make planning decisions which continues to be refined and updated.
As of today, a tentative plan to bring students back for in-person learning in January is available  at  http://www.colonialschooldistrict.org/blog/safe-return-to-schools-date-updates-december-2020/

Please remember, the factors stated above could cause the district to return to virtual learning for classes, schools, or even the entire district.  Often, these decisions are made on a moment's notice; therefore, all employees, parents, and students should be prepared daily to be either in-person or virtual.

In the upcoming weeks, I hope the Colonial community takes time to rest and rejuvenate for the new year.  If you need to Zoom, I hope that it will be used to connect with loved ones and friends.  I wish to thank all families and employees for their support as WE make difficult day-to-day decisions about student learning. I also wish to thank the Colonial staff for creating an engaging and robust virtual learning experience for students and for keeping buildings clean and students fed.  

Finally, please continue to monitor the  Colonial School District website for the latest information. As always, WE promise to keep you updated and ask for your cooperation as WE move through these unprecedented times. Together WE will get through this!  Enjoy the winter break!

Jeffrey D. Menzer, Ed.D.
Superintendent
Upcoming Dates to Remember: December/January

• December 21 - January 1st: Schools and offices closed

WE Get Tested!

Covid testing will take place at William Penn on Tuesday, December 22nd and 29th from 2:30-7:00 PM. All students and families are encouraged to get tested. Registration is not required but is recommended for faster service. To pre-register, go to http://www.colonialschooldistrict.org/blog/covid-19-testing-events/. Spread the word, so we can slow the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.

WE Love Art!

Elementary art teachers have been keeping students busy in Colonial’s Virtual Academy. Some had students participate in the Getty Museum Challenge. For this social media challenge, students were instructed to recreate a famous work of art using at least three household items and taking a picture of themselves.  Art teacher Niki Keenan says it was a great way to incorporate art history and technology because students used technology as a tool to create their artwork adding, "Art teachers in Colonial have teamed-up to be a strong force, giving students a creative outlet of time and space, that they need now more than ever. Sharing and contributing lesson components, and supporting each other through this renewal process is taking art classes to new levels. We continue to provide quality art classes, comprised of important foundations that will enhance their skills, techniques, awareness, and more. Now, we are adding and incorporating new classroom technologies as fresh and inspiring expressive platforms, so students can come together, explore, and be enriched in the special way that can only happen in art." Pictured above is art done for the challenge, along with other pictures created by elementary students in the district. Enjoy!


WE Teach & Reach!

Stacy McMullen exemplifies many teachers in Colonial. When one of her first-grade students at Carrie Downie was struggling with virtual learning, she decided to take action by going out of her way to make certain her student stayed engaged.  McMullen knew this student loves superheroes so she created a superhero-themed incentive chart that awarded him a virtual sticker for every day that he attends virtual class, but she didn’t stop there. Every Friday McMullen drives to the student’s house, cranks up the radio in her car so she and her student can celebrate his achievement with him dancing on his doorstep while she dances from her car! McMullen, who has been teaching for seven years, says she dances, dresses in costumes, and even changes her voices to keep all of her students engaged in Colonial’s Virtual Academy. She has delivered books to her students' homes and helped some with phonics by standing socially distanced apart. “EVERY teacher in Colonial has gone above and beyond during this pandemic to meet both the social and academic needs of their students. I have heard numerous stories about fellow colleagues who have carried on Star of the Week celebrations or sent pizza to students who made their learning goals. Each and every teacher has stepped up in ways never before imagined. As educators, we are trying our best to weather the storm and find new and innovative ways to reach our kids. We cannot wait to be with our kids safely again!” McMullen says. Colonial Nation is blessed to have so many dedicated teachers!

Ask and You Shall Receive!

When New Castle County offered teachers an opportunity to receive up to $1,000 in resources thanks to a program called DonorsChoose, Colonial educators wasted no time applying. Dozens of teachers were awarded what was on their wish list.  Some examples include Carrie Downie nurse Ariana Salter and teacher Jennifer Wilhelm; both received  DonorsChoose instructional and technology items. Brenda Hartman (upper left), a math and special education teacher at George Read also requested technology equipment that will help her teach remotely. “By utilizing a mobile desk and document camera, students will be able to experience real-life situations through their computers when they are either learning virtually or in person. The mobile desk will allow me to move throughout the school building as well as my home to be able to display various math experiences while the document camera will help to bring those experiences up close and interactive for the students. Additionally, the second monitor will help me to see what the students are seeing through my presentations” she said.  Azadeh Narimanian (upper center), a preschool teacher at Colonial’s Early Education Program (CEEP) was grateful for the grant money, saying often teachers go into their own pockets for their students. She ordered individual mini chalkboards, outdoor motor equipment, and more for her students. “This school year it has been especially challenging because not only do our kids need their own set of materials at school but learning resources at home too. When the New Castle County government teamed up with DonorsChoose, it made my heart so full. It feels like our needs were heard, we were appreciated, and not only were staff supported but our students and their families too!” she said. Luke Wittenbach, a special education teacher at William Penn, used his grant to support his paraprofessionals with additional technology. “I'm so excited that my paras will be able to offer our students the same services, and virtual experiences that I can as a teacher.“ Wittenbach said. Colonial Nation wishes to thank New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer and the DonorsChoose program for supporting our students and teachers!

Gunning Bedford science teacher Erin Motley (bottom) was among teachers from around the country who applied for and received stem research kits valued at $1000 for her students, thanks to the Society for Science & the Public. Our teachers are so resourceful!


The Gift Of Giving

Riann Warman, Carrie Downie’s Teacher of the Year, helped organize a donation from the bookstore Second and Charles. Thanks to her efforts 33 boxes of gifts and books were sent to the school for students when they return in the new year. 

Southern Sharks Soar!

Southern was recently awarded a $41,000 New Castle County CARES grant for the purchase of books for our students!  This grant was written in conjunction with Mrs. Louise Cummings as an extension of our existing Ballard Reading Buddies program. Cummings, widow of slain Delaware State Police Cpl. Stephen Ballard started the Ballard’s Reading Reading Buddies program at Southern shortly after her husband’s untimely death. The program matches students with one-on-one adult reading partners. Thanks to the grant obtained by Mrs. Cummings each student at Southern will be receiving a gift of books ($50.00 per student) to build their home library.  The goal of this grant was to provide quality, tangible literature to students during this time of home-based virtual learning. Southern Sharks wish to thank Mrs. Cummings for her continued support!

Spirit Days

Students and staff at New Castle got in the holiday spirit by having an ugly sweater day. At Castle Hills, Motivational Day was a big hit when everyone expressed their feelings on their shirts!

Tis' the Season!

Needy students at Wilmington Manor will find gifts under their trees thanks to the generosity of others. School Counselor Meghan Feby says, "Every year, our staff works together to support families during the holiday season in the Adopt-a-Family Holiday Help program. Staff members generously signed up to purchase items for anonymous families in our school. In recent years we collaborated with the First Baptist Church of Delaware to bolster and supplement the school’s annual endeavor. In this unpredictable year, our community partner outdid themselves! Wilmington Manor was able to assist more families than ever, thanks to the help and support of the church’s staff and members. Family wish lists included not just toys, but clothes, gift cards, and other necessities needed for the upcoming year. Further assistance was given from administrators at William Penn High School who wanted to help the next generation of Colonials. All gifts were successfully picked up from school or delivered to homes before the snow started falling today. The Power of We really came together to support our smallest elementary school! ” Pictured is Wilmington Manor parent and church representative David Henry who also helped make it all happen.
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