Dear Blakely Families,
I am so very excited to welcome you and your child(ren) to the 2020-21 school year! It is sure to be a year to remember! It truly is an amazing gift to work with such thoughtful, caring and supportive students, families and staff!
I am fortunate to already know many of the Blakely families, but for those that I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting, I wanted to take this opportunity to share a few things about myself. This is my 24th year in education. Ten of those years were spent teaching 1st and 4th grade. The remaining 13 have been in administration, with this being the start of my eleventh year at Blakely. My daughter is a sophomore at WSU and navigating the online experience. My wife, Elizabeth, is the ceramics teacher at BHS.
We have been hard at work all summer in order to prepare for this upcoming year! As you can probably guess, school reopening planning has been no small task. We find ourselves planning on what feels like constant shifting sand, as we are responsive to changes related to health and safety guidelines.
I anticipate that you have a great deal of questions about what this upcoming year will look like, and I will be providing regular updates as information becomes available. Please know that things are being sorted out in real time, as we triage the many, many complicated pieces of this puzzle.
In this newsletter, you will find information about staffing, schedules, and placement. I would also encourage you to read the BISD newsletter that was sent out last Friday for additional details about Continuous Learning 2.0, and general district-wide Q&As that I find very helpful.
Staff/New Staff or Change in Assignment (are in bold):
Preschool: Amy Friedman
Kindergarten: Meghan Berg and Karen Keller
1st Grade: Erin Sheehan, Terra Claiborne, Abby Hoag and Jennifer Rose
2nd Grade: Lisa McCassey, Teresa Ball, Carrie Holloway
3rd Grade: Maddie Ketcheside, Kellie Olsen, Amy Reuling and Susan Claesson will be teaching 100% on-line
4th Grade: Jeniffer Ledbetter, Sam Cameron, Elizabeth Meyers
Special Education: Annalisa Sanchez and Myleea Spencer
Support Staff: Kelly Danielson, Leticia Blacker, Mary Beth Kobbs, Milo Zaneski, Robyn Stahl
Specialist: Kathleen Pool, Katie Bonanno, Elaine Hanson, Diane Bedell, and Alec Grimm
Classified Support Staff: Robin Thomas, James Hannon, Michelle Byron, Krista Friedman, Adrian Groves, Katrina Hess, Roger Johnson, Holden Fiechko, Cami Halsen, Lucia Rosling-Shaw, Sarah Rous, Krista Schei, Shayna Schulte, Ulla Solberg, Colleen Titos, Nicole Vani, Marci Collins
Office Manager: Kyanne Hawkins
Associate Principal: Whitney Skarbek
Principal: Reese Ande
We have spent a great deal of time as an elementary administrative team in order to develop schedules that will work best for students, staff and families. We recognize that our students may be accessing continuous learning from a community daycare center, in a small learning pod, with a parent working from home, etc. In order to try to best meet the needs of all students and families, we have determined common times for breaks and lunch/recess. In addition, each grade-level will have a more predictable and structured schedule. It is easiest to think of this in terms of what our daily schedules looked like pre-COVID, rather than what school looked like remotely last spring.
Here is a link to our draft building master schedule during this time of Continuous Learning. You will also find a sample daily schedule on the second tab of this document. This is meant to give you an idea of what a day may look like for your child. We are still planning the specific details about instructional delivery, but in general, know it will look more synchronous (students logged in at the same time for instruction) followed by opportunities for small groups and independent practice that will not be as screen dependent. We plan to distribute materials on a regular basis (the frequency is yet to be determined-stay tuned!) in order to provide paper/pencil tasks and hands-on activities for our students.
Please also note that students will see the same specialist M-Th for one week at a time, in order for students to have consistency and build upon projects or concepts several days in a row. We will not have specialist classes on Fridays, and Friday is now the new Monday (ha!) meaning that each Friday students will be “released” 90 minutes early, at 12:50 p.m. in order for us to provide time for teacher professional development. We are also hoping to be able to have grade-level and school-wide community opportunities on Fridays, such as all school assemblies, virtual buddy classes, etc.
This schedule is for our time in Continuous Learning; we will need to run a different schedule during the in-person hybrid model in order to accommodate AM/PM sessions and the time between each session for transportation and cleaning.
We are currently in the midst of placing all of our students into class sections for this upcoming year. We take great care in our placement process, which typically starts in early May. This year, we are tasked with creating balanced classes as we typically do (taking into consideration many factors such as gender balance, students with special education needs, students that work well together, etc) as well as creating AM/PM sections based upon geographical location on the island. This is for transportation purposes and also to ensure that we have the correct number of students in each AM and PM section in order to adhere to social distancing guidelines.
Your child will be placed into an AM or PM section, which will be seen as one whole class section during this time of Continuous Learning. For example, a Kindergarten grade student may be assigned to the AM section of Ms. Berg’s class, but during continuous learning this student will be a part of Ms. Berg’s Kindergarten classroom, with all students participating together remotely throughout the day.
Please note that we take placement very seriously and are doing all that we can to meet student needs while adhering to these new parameters. It is important to note that class placement will be final and we will not be able to make class placement changes.
I have never been more proud of our staff, and am blown away by their creativity, determination and commitment to tackling our new style of school (and the many changes) head on. We know that this year may look different, but we will ensure that it is meaningful, engaging, supportive and joyous for your child(ren). What makes our Blakely community unique and special is not bound by a physical building. We will still stay true to our core values and the heart work that we do each day to connect with our students, families and one another. I can’t promise it will be easy, I can guarantee it won’t be perfect, but we will face each day, as a Blakely community, stronger together.
I understand that this information is a lot to take in, and I am sure you are still left with many questions. We will be holding a PTO meeting Thursday, August 27 th at 5 pm in order to have time for families to ask me more specific questions related to this upcoming school year. . A zoom link will be provided as we get closer to the meeting.
Wishing you a wonderful rest of your week,
Please enjoy this Welcome Back Video from our Fabulous Blakely Staff put together by the talented Ms. Sheehan, 1st Grade Teacher.