I write this on the eve of the March on Washington 2020, and by the time you read this, the event will have passed.
Today our nation is hurting, from the violence against some people of color, to the rhetoric that inflames and pains. Please join me as I take a moment of silence for peace, humanity, and justice.
Together, let us reflect on what action and advocacy mean to our community at Green Acres. Engaged citizenship and participation in the democratic process are anchors of our School’s mission. We will continue to promote these practices now and in the future, through leadership and learning moments that amplify—and rely on—the voice of your children. You may recall that in 2017, our students and staff advocated and implemented a policy against the use of the Washington football team’s name and logo on campus; today, years later, this change is finally coming to pass. Change can begin with us—in small but mighty communities like ours that teach children to go out into the world and shape it into a kinder, more inclusive place.
Mentor and advocate for peace and education, Sonia Nieto, spoke with me before this year’s first all-staff virtual meeting. An educators’ educator, Sonia recounted to me her visit to Green Acres several years ago, and the impression that remained in her heart:
“I was so impressed when I visited [Green Acres]. I saw the kind of teaching and learning that went on... the expectations for students... The flexibility, the love, the encouragement, all of that was just wonderful to see. As I mentioned to you before, Rebecca, I walked out of that school saying: this is what every child should have.”
That recognition continues today, as one of our own, 4th grade teacher Alison Stern, was featured in Bethesda Magazine as one of six “Extraordinary Educators” in the region. (The article highlights Alison’s progressive teaching style and even features quotes from our families.) We are surrounded by teachers and staff who have a powerful impact on our students and each other as colleagues. They encourage, challenge, and motivate each other to do their best work, be their best selves, and work together toward a common goal.
Parents and guardians, community members and trustees, your continued feedback and shared perspectives help us to grow and to improve the experience at Green Acres for everyone. Yes, we will get some things wrong, and yes, we want to hear about this directly to address issues and adapt. The start of a school year is a perfect time to remind ourselves of the gift of making mistakes and the opportunity that missteps and stumbles provide to learn.
Last week and earlier this week, we invited Pre-K parents and guardians to engage in conversation with us about the HyFlex on-campus program, our health protocol, and remote experience. We heard thoughtful questions about how we would keep cohorts and groups isolated, the routine from drop-off to pick-up, what types of snacks folks should send with their children, and the flow of the academic and special subjects, balanced with time outdoors. We informed them that we would send each family a Community Agreement, as well as an addendum to our Community Handbook that covers COVID-19 procedures.
You will find these documents linked below. Please take a moment to read through them and to sign the Community Agreement prior to sending your child back to campus (for Pre-K, the return-to-campus date is Tuesday, September 8; for older grades, the date is still TBD). For easy reference, and to keep this request at the top of your mind, we will link to these documents in subsequent communications, such as our inaugural GreenLine, which you will receive in your email inbox this coming Monday.
I’ve also linked to the printable first-day-of-school signs we created for your children, and I look forward to seeing the joyful photos you send in from home!
In addition to our moment of silence, I would like to take a moment to acknowledge the stress and strain many of our families and staff may feel, between the isolation, the pressure to provide our young people with experiences that replace what currently is lost due to COVID-19, and the weight of caring for fragile family members and friends. I also acknowledge those who feel the responsibility as providers in a tough economy. Let us remember the importance of self-care, rest, getting out into nature, and creative expression through the arts.
I wish health, peace, and joy for you and your friends and families, and I am excited for the start of school for K–8 this coming Monday.
Rebecca Geary (she/they)
Head of School