This has been an incredibly difficult time for the world and for our community. The hardest part of this process for me has been the emotional social distancing that is a symptom of our current circumstances. I recently shared a few reflections with our families:
1) Routine is a double-edged sword. The routines we develop over the course of our lives often keep us from reflecting on what is most important. Routine can be calming and normalizing but it can also be numbing, and when routine wears off or is disrupted, reality becomes clearer and what is important comes more into focus. We are all living this reality.
2) We need each other. It is at our most vulnerable that we realize how important others are in our lives. We often talk about “why” we do what we do and it has never been more clear to me than it is now. We will keep soldiering on because it is what we need and what is needed from us by those we care about the most.
3) Innovation comes from adversity. The last several weeks have moved at breakneck speed and while it is easy to focus on the scary parts of these developments, it is during times of disruption when great innovation occurs. Humanity is awesome and we are creating and innovating in ways that will impact the world. As educators the things we are doing now are unbelievable (building an airplane as it is flying).
4) We are lucky! We have families that need and love us. We have a community that needs and loves us, supports us and whom we love. Our work matters. We are all in this together and we will continue to do the best we can to care and support each other and these incredible students.
As you are aware, Governor Brown announced the physical closure of public schools for the remainder of the year and issued guidelines for school districts on the processing of credits and graduation requirements for seniors. I am incredibly proud of our staff and students and believe we are doing the best we can and better than most in the country under these very difficult circumstances.
While most public schools are struggling to provide quality instruction in a distance learning format, Park Academy was able to put into place a program that continues to offer specialized and comprehensive real-time instruction to our students. We believe it is important, if not essential, that students continue to receive an appropriate education. Students with learning differences can be particularly impacted by inconsistency and long breaks from structured education. Most of our seniors are going on to higher education and we think it is vital we continue to provide the educational supports that will help them be successful in the future. In addition, we have the opportunity to record letter-based grades and credits on their transcripts ensuring that their achievements in high school both accurately represent the course material covered and represent the hard work our students have put in throughout their educational careers.
To that end, we remain committed to our students’ education and will continue to provide the opportunity to connect with peers and complete high school course work in preparation for school and life. We believe it is in the best interest of the students to remain engaged in the learning process and take pride in their achievements. In June, we will have a virtual celebration of the studentsʼ achievements complete with caps and gowns and will have a physical ceremony at a later date when allowed by the state. We will do our best to honor the achievements of these young adults of whom we are incredibly proud. We have been honored to be on this journey with both the students and their families. In many ways we have all watched them grow into the incredible human beings they have become and we look forward to crossing the finish line together. We will share more information on the Class of 2020 in a future update.
Thank you for all of your dedication and support for both our students and Park Academy. We literally cannot do this work without the support of our entire community. We have completed our annual report for the 2018-2019 fiscal year. We are proud to share it with you on our website.
Lastly, we have decided to postpone our June 18th event, An Evening with Max Brooks, until the Spring of 2021. We want to celebrate with everyone in person the wonderful work that Park Academy does for our students with learning differences, both in the classroom and our new found distance learning. In the next couple of weeks we will be announcing a fundraising campaign to help our school community through the end of the school year.
Watch our website for the details and feel free to reach out to Liz Dove if you want her to contact you once we have the details. Also, be sure to check Max Brooks out on his Twitter page. In addition to being a champion of people with dyslexia and a talented writer, he has also been sharing his knowledge on epidemics and pandemics.
Stay safe and healthy! We cannot wait to see you, in person, as soon as we are able!
Head of School