March 26, 2020

Dear Upper School parents,

I hope this finds you well. As we’re approaching the end of our first week of continuous online learning, I could not be more proud of the hard work, flexibility, understanding, and enthusiasm that the students and faculty have put into this new process. It’s quite awe-inspiring. Thank you also for all the work families are putting in behind the scenes. I know this is a challenging situation for everyone.

We have compiled some important reminders and updates for you:

  • Parent feedback on week one. We are processing and reflecting on what went well (and not quite so well) this week in order to improve the learning experience for our students and families. To assist us in that process, we are seeking parent feedback through this Google form. Thank you in advance for filling it out. I will also be seeking feedback from the students and faculty. Lower and Middle Schools will be sending similar surveys tomorrow.
  • Half-day - Friday, March 27. This Friday will remain a half-day. Faculty will use the afternoon to continue professional development and create additional resources for students.
  • Parent/teacher conferences - Friday, April 3. We are in the process of reimagining the spring parent/teacher conferences. Sadly, it is not feasible for us to do the usual one-on-one conferences that normally take place. Instead, we will be utilizing a model closer to a virtual Back-to-School Night. On the upside, by making it virtual, no one has to deal with the Upper School room numbering system! More precise details will follow next week, but in broad strokes:
    • Like Back-to-School Night, each block will meet for 10 minutes on the morning of Friday, April 3, via Zoom. Each class meeting will be recorded and made available to parents who are not able to attend.
    • Parents will receive an email next week listing the time each block will meet, including the class and teacher your student has in that block. Also included in that email will be details on how to join the Zoom class meeting.
    • During each meeting, the teacher will talk in general terms about the class, how it has adapted to online learning, the experiences of the first two weeks of continuous online learning, and how parents can help support the process moving forward. There will be time for questions about the class.
    • As ever, if you have a question or concern about your student, feel free to reach out to the teacher separately (email is probably best). Be assured that we will do likewise.
  • Scheduling for 2020-21. Originally, we had anticipated getting course recommendations for 2020-21 to parents on Monday, April 6. We are still working towards that date, but would appreciate your understanding if that information comes a day or two later.
  • Thank you. I want to thank you all for the incredible support you have shown to the community and faculty during this time. Monday was especially difficult for many; starting off with such optimism and joy at getting to see each other, only for Governor Northam’s announcement in the afternoon to banish any hopes we held for seeing school restart before the end of the academic year. A positive effect of the announcement is that we no longer need to deal with possibilities and hypotheticals – we can develop systems and a learning environment that are effective and sustainable. Thank you for all that you are doing to make that happen.
Wishing you all the best,

Adam Seldis 
Director of Upper School
The Steward School | 11600 Gayton Road | Richmond, VA 23238 | 804-740-3394
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