September 10, 2020
Hello Whitford Families,
We thought it was going to be an extra week out of school around Spring Break, then possibly a few extra weeks, then stay at home until the end of last school year, but here we are in September, still not back in school, but starting the school year off with comprehensive distance learning. In all my administrative training and experience, I have never endured anything like the challenges that we have faced under these unique circumstances in my time as an educator. Here we are, starting school on September 14th, all from home, and I’m trying to lead a group of educators into these uncharted waters of distance learning until at least November 16th, and possibility longer.
You will soon be hearing from, or meeting the teachers which will be interacting with your children. The staff is both nervous and excited. We miss our students, but this new way of educating is far different than how any educator was trained out of college. We will have successes, challenges, technology issues, distractions, misunderstandings, and plenty of confusion, but most of all we all ask for grace as we start the 2020-2021 school year.
Over the past two weeks, our teachers have been given a firehose of information from understanding a new schedule, new technology apps, how to navigate Zoom, learning how to best instruct virtually, all while keeping the focus and passion for teaching the students.
We have a team of administrators, teachers, instructional assistants, secretaries, counselors, and other professionals who will be supporting students online. One of our goals this year is to provide the very best comprehensive distance learning for all of our students. This is not just the teacher teaching, but having a team of wrap around supports so students keep learning and removing any barriers which would impact student’s ability to attend, learn, and achieve.
Our second goal as a school is to delve into race, equity, and being an antiracist educator. We are well aware of the political tension in our country and want to guide our students in open, honest, and unbiased conversations about what is happening in our society. We strive for all our students to feel welcome, honored, valued, and treasured at Whitford. Our diversity is an asset and we will learn more from listening to each other than talking over one another. Our teachers are ready to dive into this work and make Whitford an even better place.
Over the next few weeks, we will be communicating information via school messenger regarding back to school nights, parent Q&A, Chromebook exchange, PTO, Breaking Barriers, school pictures, possible after school virtual clubs, and information for if/when we return to a hybrid model.
I thank you for your support, patience, and understanding. We are moving forward to teach grade level learning targets in all classes knowing that last spring might have been a challenge. Our kids deserve the very best and collaboratively we can, and will, achieve this goal no matter if we’re all virtual, hybrid, or full-time school.
Hello Whitford community,
As much as I want to have Will Smith’s (Men in Black) flash the pen for me to forget everything from 2020, I don’t want to say everything is worth forgetting. The Whitford staff, students, parents, and community have worked hard to make the best of an undesirable situation. Having the ability to be flexible in life will serve our students well. I never thought the last day of students coming in our front doors would have been Friday March 13th, but it was. So many people have showed resilience, determination, and perseverance. Whitford is built on trust, relationships, rigor, equity, and grit. I’ve said this before, but I’m proud to serve as the principal of Whitford Middle School.
To all 6th and 7th graders, we miss you and can’t wait to see your smiling faces in September,--- we hope. Keep reading, doing math, and exercising. Your brain can’t just sit for 6th months and expect to start back up again when school resumes. Unless you are leaving the district, everyone is allowed to keep their Chromebooks over the summer in hopes it will be used for academic purposes. Now onto the 8th graders.
Dearest 8th graders!
We can't let the year end without seeing you one more time to say goodbye and wish you well as you enter high school. We also want you to meet your new principal.
We have planned a brief 8th grade send off on Wednesday, June 10th from 10:00am -12:00pm. We are asking that students with last names A-L come to school between 10-11am, and students with last names M-Z come between 11am - 12pm (just to keep distancing). If this time will not work with your family schedule, you may come whenever it is most convenient. Most students will arrive in cars with a parent, but some will arrive on foot or on a bike. Either way, we are excited to see you!
Here's our plan for students arriving in cars:
- You'll drive into the large bus parking lot, circling the edge of the lot (folks will be there to guide you). You may or may not be in a small line as you wait your turn.
- PLEASE --- Write your name and the high school you will attend in big letters on a sheet of paper. Be prepared to show this through the window of your car once you enter the parking lot.
- When you pull up to where staff are waiting, we will present you with a t-shirt from the school you will attend next year, a yearbook if you ordered one, any certificates or awards you may receive, and a small treat from your teachers and PTO.
- If you have any books or musical instruments to drop off, this will be an excellent time to do that. If you didn't pick up your locker contents previously, we may have that for you as well. All students (even 8th graders) will keep their Chromebook over the summer and trade it for a new Chromebook in the fall.
Students and parents will need to stay in their cars during this brief event. For those students who will be walking to school, please remain 6 feet apart, and check in with a staff member before proceeding to our various pick up stations.
We look forward to seeing you the morning of June 10th! In the meantime, keep working hard to learn all that you can. If you are in need of any ideas to supplement your learning, visit our "big list of ideas" on the Whitford website.
Have a safe and active summer. Read some books and we hope to see you, maybe, in September.
Brian Peerenboom, Principal
Hello Whitford Families,
It’s hard to believe it’s December already. I hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving and were able to see friends and family either in person or virtually. The Coronavirus has made us all think differently about how to “see” each other during the holiday season.
Superintendent Grotting has released the common middle school schedule for next school year. Our administrative team is digesting this information on how to best serve our Dual Language, Summa, and regular school schedule. I will host a Zoom Q&A for parents who have questions about the common middle school schedule on Monday, December 14th from 6:00-7:00pm. We will send out the Zoom information prior to the event.
Finally, I want to address comprehensive distance learning. We feel good about making sure all our students have reliable internet service to participate in how we are doing school. However, we are noticing while students are present, many students are not engaged in the learning. I have observed several classes this school year and I have viewed our teachers teaching to blank screens. Part of making CDL (comprehensive distance learning) work is the visual interaction between students and teachers. I ask that you have a conversation with your student about the importance of showing their faces and fully engaging in the lesson and also completing the assigned work.
Our teachers, administrative staff, and support staff spent the first few months focused on making sure all students have proper working internet access and attendance. We will be shifting to full engagement and work completion. We will soon be sending letters to those who might be struggling with work completion and giving them some ideas of how to better support their learners.
I would like to wish everyone a happy holiday season and I feel blessed that I’m able to serve this community. Here is wishing we will all be back together, safely, very soon.
Brian Peerenboom, Principal