I feel very fortunate to be a part of the Colorado Academy community and to have the opportunity to support and challenge all of our Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Graders to grow into skilled, kind, and thoughtful young adults. At the best of times, this is exciting and multi-faceted work. With a COVID-19 pandemic afoot, it is even more so. The summer has been spent planning for myriad contingencies and how we can do two things incredibly well: 1. Educate the kids in our care in mind, body, and spirit, whether online or in school wearing masks; and 2. How to keep us ALL as safe as possible.
The good news is that I truly believe we can do both. To do so, however, will take tremendous effort, communication, and flexibility on all of our parts. It will also take our willingness to keep our eye on the “big picture,” recognizing that there are important milestones, skills, and competencies to help kids achieve, and other, smaller items that may arise, which may need to be put on hold temporarily.
Our academic compass
Here is what I mean: CA has a wonderful academic compass, the 6Cs. We truly believe that helping kids develop the skills to think critically, be creative, collaborate, communicate, act morally, and engage cross-culturally are essential to their future. These critical competencies, along with self-regulation and interpersonal skills, will create the sail that will carry your child successfully and safely to distant shores. Creating time to practice these skills is going to be much more important for long-term success than memorizing state capitals or learning about cirrus clouds. It is not that these content-specific goals are unimportant, only that increasing practice on close reading, problem solving, or written expression is more so.
Similarly, prioritizing interpersonal skill development through our advisory program and during class time is also essential, especially since many students have not had the opportunity to interact in the way that they normally would over the past few months. The research is clear on this point: the development of “soft” social and emotional skills is every bit as important to student long-term success as learning the “hard” math, science, and other academic-content skills.
Working and communicating
I have been thinking quite a bit about the relationship between work, joy, and community. It is my hope, regardless of how we will be together—remote or mask-to-mask—that every child will have the chance to develop their ability to work hard and with purpose. Learning is fun, but it is also hard, consistent WORK. Making “friends” with work, getting comfortable with the hours of practice necessary to make skill progress and develop true competency is essential to young people’s long-term success. This is why our program will afford students lots of practice in the essential skills, as well as the constructive feedback necessary to help students progress.
This year, more than most, will demand lots of communication—communication about progress, challenges, social needs, and the like. I encourage all of us to reach out to one another to discuss how it is going and find ways that we can pool our resources for the good of the children and each other.
Please join me in helping to make being together at school JOYFUL. Yes, we will be wearing masks sometimes. Yes, there will be lots of social distancing rules. Yes, we may move from CA Flex to remote and back again, depending on the circumstances. These aspects of school during a pandemic are largely out of our control. What is in our control is enjoying each other’s company, laughing together, supporting one another, and having fun while at school or online.
I hope you will join us in finding as much joy in the coming months as possible. We are only on this ride as kids and adults once; let’s try to get as much out of it as possible. Our community is strong, our commitment is firm, and our efforts to support each other will largely determine how much we will get done together. I look forward to ALL this year will bring. If I can be helpful in any way, please do not hesitate to be in touch.