ABS Thursday Notes- October 22, 2020

Published for the Arts Based School Community
October 22, 2020

How We Do It and Why
By Mary Siebert

“We desperately need more leaders who are self-aware enough to lead from their hearts.”
- Brené Brown

It is sometimes frustrating to attend leadership gatherings for schools. Many school administrators are expected to operate with philosophies that are in opposition to ours, relying on punishment and reward to manage students, with an emphasis on punishment. Some of them seem to have little trust or faith in their teachers and even speak of them negatively in these settings. It’s uncomfortable to attend “breakout sessions” where, in small groups, some administrators share these negative attitudes as if it’s understood that we all agree.

ABS administrators love our teachers. It’s one of the great pleasures of the job, to get to know them, support them, be inspired by them, and enjoy their company. It’s especially exciting when they enrich one another’s teaching, forming teams and partnerships that serve our students even more dynamically. We are appreciative when they graciously allow our errors and imperfections, and assume that we are striving toward our best. We are moved by their uniform work ethic and commitment to excellence. And while this is surely due to the leadership of Ms. Hollis and Ms. Raper, it’s probably also because teachers who love teaching are drawn to a model where they are offered enough structure, but enough freedom as well. This is a balance we always seek. Just as our arts-infused school tends to support self-expression in students, it has a similar impact on teachers. 

This week I attended a Zoom leaders’ meeting for A+ Schools of North Carolina, of which ABS is a long time member. There were many principals present, and I was ushered repeatedly into breakout rooms with them. With excellent structural ideas for these smaller conversations from the A+ staff, it became quickly apparent that there has been a startling change. The pandemic crisis has challenged all of the leaders with learning how to think and act differently. With only one exception, they spoke of a fresh commitment to promoting staff self-care. They shared ideas for how to “lighten the load” for teachers, to be flexible, to help students and teachers identify emotions, and learn to work with them. They talked about needing to listen more and to value “compassion over completion,” while providing sufficient structure and expectations. They spoke of their teachers with tenderness and appreciation. They all reported becoming more open to others’ ideas and to learning from their professional peers. They coached the teachers to leave work on time and avoid working after hours or on weekends. And they even suggested that they themselves needed to be more attuned to their own well-being, allowing themselves to recognize mistakes as part of the learning curve in a situation where there are no answers, taking a breath, and trying again. 

Some people suggest that the pandemic restrictions will change the world’s interactions forever. Others foresee a complete return to business as usual, where we pack the sports arenas and shout to our heart’s content. I hope that this particular trend, where school leaders recognize the value of compassionate leadership, and challenge themselves to offer it, is here to stay.


MAP Testing
In a traditional school year, ABS uses the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test to assess each student’s academic growth. We give students in grades 3-8 MAP tests to determine each child’s instructional level and to measure academic growth throughout the school year, and from year to year in the areas of math and reading. NWEA has provided the opportunity for us to administer the MAP test in the remote setting this year. We are planning to provide an optional remote testing session for Grades 3-8 in MAP Reading and Math. (4th grade already did reading). Each grade level will be administering Remote Reading and Math MAP tests between November Monday, November 2 and Monday, November 9. Your classroom teacher will provide specific information on your schedule and login instructions. This data will be used to inform our teaching, but not to make any changes in student placement; the data will be shared with parents.


ReOpening School Plans
The ABS Board of Directors voted to remain in Plan C-Remote Learning until at least November 30, the end of our first trimester. 


How Do I Stay Up to Date with School ReOpening Plans?
We’re doing our best to keep ABS families, staff, and community updated with the latest information about our School ReOpening. We will continue to provide information in multiple places, including direct email, Thursday Notes, and Virtual Parent Meetings. If you have specific topics or questions, please send them to us at this form so we can be sure to address them.


Annual Giving!
With only 10% of our ABS families participating to date, and just a little over a week left in the campaign, please consider making a gift in support of our school today. We are truly grateful to everyone who has made a gift thus far. Thank you! 

Total School Participation to Date: 10%
Total Gifts to Date: $18,770

In the words of one parent who supports ABS with a monthly gift: 

I have more insight than ever this year into the kind of education that my children receive at ABS, and I am so glad that we are part of this carefully and thoughtfully balanced learning community. Even in these incredibly difficult (and distanced) circumstances, my son and daughter are learning and creating and making connections. Not every day is perfect at our house, but I remain grateful for ABS; I look forward to the time when my children can be welcomed back, and in the meantime, I am happy that we can contribute to the school even with a modest gift.

Your gift to this year’s Annual Giving campaign will have a deep and immediate impact. Please participate! Making a recurring monthly gift is an excellent way to maximize your gift to ABS, as is sharing the call to action with your extended family and friends.

We ask all parents for financial support just once each year. Please give as generously as you are able. An Annual Giving letter, envelopes, and FAQs are going home via Materials Exchange. Please click here if you prefer to make a secure gift online. Thank you!


ABS T-Shirts!
We will be placing our first bulk order for t-shirts this Monday, October 26. Any orders placed by Sunday at midnight (including all orders for t-shirts to date!) will arrive at ABS within the week, and will be sorted into your child’s next Materials Exchange package. These beautiful new shirts were designed by artist (and ABS parent and board chair) Ellen Heck, and are being printed by ABS parents Derry and Lisa George of Dikie The Geek Computer and Printing. Place your order here no later than Sunday!


Parent Council Meeting Minutes
Thank you to everyone who joined our second Parent Council Meeting of 20-21 held via Zoom. Click here to review the Meeting Minutes from 10/16/2020. Please join us for upcoming Parent Council (PC) gatherings via Zoom in October and November (details below).


Parent Council Social - Thursday, October 22 at 5:30 PM
The Parent Council Board invites all parents, caregivers, and learning coaches to join us for another virtual social gathering. Feeling connected to your Arts Based community is more important than ever during these new and challenging times. You are not alone out there! We are all working hard to make the most of this new frontier for our learners. We look forward to collaborating to find creative ways to support our school community! Join us via Zoom on Thursday, October 22 at 5:30 PM. Submit questions or ideas for discussion via our parent council comment box. Please indicate “PC Social” in your submission.


Parent Council Meeting - Friday, November 13th at 12:00 PM
Please submit any questions or topics you would like to discuss via our parent council comment box. Please indicate “PC Meeting” in your submission. We invite all parents, caregivers, and learning coaches to join us.


Around Town…
Top Tier Kids is a program with the goal to provide a safe, fun, and supportive environment where kids can learn to love exercise, be healthy, and build confidence. Classes are coached and guided- it is a combination of games, workouts, team-builders and skill practice. Your child (children) will pull, push, run, throw, squat, lift, and jump- all while having a blast and learning about good sportsmanship and teamwork. The long term goal is to introduce kids to group fitness- to create kids who want to exercise with their family. See some pictures and find out more here.

  • WHEN: Mondays and Thursdays 4-5pm
  • WHERE: Top Tier Fitness upstairs
  • AGES: 5-8 years old and 9-12 years old
  • PRICE: $100 for 10 classes

Contact for questions: melissa@toptier.fitness

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