ABS Thursday Notes- February 4, 2021

Published for the Arts Based School Community
February 4, 2021

How We Do it and Why
By Mary Siebert

“My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.” —Bishop Desmond Tutu

This is Black History Month. In 1926, author, publisher, and historian Dr. Carter G. Woodson first proposed that educators dedicate one week of classroom time each year to teaching the history of Black Americans in the nation's public schools. Dr. Woodson maintained that Black students should be aware and proud of their heritage, and that all Americans should have the opportunity to appreciate contributions and stories from the African diaspora.

Only three states chose to participate in 1926, and North Carolina was one of them. In the 95 years since then, educators across the nation have haltingly continued to make corrective adjustments to the myopic public school approach to history instruction. It has taken almost a century to graduate from one week of Black history to one month. The next step is to recognize the obvious: that Black history is American history and should be incorporated fluidly throughout every student’s experience and every school’s curriculum. Multiple cultural perspectives are key to understanding where we’ve been and who we are now. Recognition of historic, scientific, literary, and artistic contributions from across the great diversity of our country is critical to learning. If we teach from only one cultural perspective, we are depriving all of our students of a complete education. American history includes the opportunity to learn about our country and ourselves not only through triumphant accomplishments, but also through our tragic failures. Painful growth is still progress.

There is current political debate about the wording of suggested revisions in state-required social studies standards. Revisions are required on a cyclical basis, to adjust for changes in society and updated teaching practices. The newly proposed revisions require incorporating Black History, teaching about slavery and racism, and teaching about oppressed people in this country as part of a year-round curriculum. Some people are concerned that studying our country’s errors might result in lack of trust and faith in our democracy. 

ABS teachers express and celebrate love for our country and teach the positive value of democracy. But pride in our country is built not only through love of culture, land, and successes. Growth is also realized through our ability to recognize failure, admit it, and correct it. We have not yet achieved the lofty visions promised in the founding documents of our democracy. As we work to realize the dream of a truly democratic union, our goal as teachers is to celebrate our country’s victories and learn from our mistakes. That is the power of democracy, and it is truthfully reflective of our country’s wavering, experimental journey toward proving that a nation can be effectively self-governed.

Our school considers Black history to be history. We are in constant learning mode as educators, about how to present lessons in a way that is representative of the diverse populations of our country. We do not teach from the political perspective of liberal or conservative. Our goal is to teach honestly; to be inclusive and historically accurate. As teachers, we believe that it is critically important for us to invite our students to hear the voices and perspectives of all our people. 

ReOpening School Plans
As you may have seen in the Governor’s Press conference on Tuesday, Governor Cooper, Dr. Mandy Cohen, State Superintendent Truitt, and State Board of Education Chairman Davis are strongly urging all schools to reopen to in-person learning. In addition, the NC Senate Bill for ReOpening Schools calls for all schools to provide in-person learning for the remainder of the school year. If this bill passes, the decision about ReOpening Schools will no longer be a local decision.  As announced last month, we were in the process of trying to re-open on March 23.  We are now more likely to re-open earlier, possibly at the end of the second trimester. 

The ABS Executive Committee is meeting on Monday, and the ABS Board will address the issues at Tuesday's Board meeting. ABS administration has been reworking the ReOpening Plans based on the new Health and Safety requirements. (Be sure the date says Feb 2 to know you have the right version.)

We continue to prepare for the return to the classrooms for parents that choose that option for their child. We are committed to following all current required health and safety protocols provided by NCDHHS.

We are working with three plans:

  • K-5 would follow Plan A-Regular schedule, 5 days a week, minimal distancing,mask mandatory
  • 6-8 would follow Plan B-6 ft distancing, Every other Day attendance, mask mandatory
  • Some students would elect Plan C-Remote Learning- Joining the classroom instruction via ZOOM while the teacher is teaching those in the classroom.

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. Our next virtual information meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, February 10th at 12 pm. You will receive an invitation and link via your email from Evite. If you have specific topics or questions, please send them to us via this form so we can be sure to address them. Form to submit questions.

Our Next Parent Council Meeting is Friday, February 12th at 12 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.

The Parent Council is conducting an independent survey for parents. Please take a few minutes to share your view. PC Parent Survey

Friday Sing Tomorrow
At The Arts Based School, we have created a tradition of celebrating African American culture in February by bringing guest artists into the school to perform for our students. Last year, we enjoyed a concert by WSSU’s beautiful Burke Singers. The Burke Singers, founded by Maestra D’Walla Burke, are inspired by the work of Sweet Honey in the Rock, who define themselves as “a performance ensemble rooted in African American history and culture.” This month, supercharge your energy by singing along to This Little Light of Mine with Sweet Honey in the Rock as they perform for an audience of children at the Kennedy Center.

Romeo & Juliet on the Border is Here!
The videos are finished! They have already been released to families of the 5th grade stars, and now you are invited to the show! Enjoy these delightful performances by visiting the Family Portal at artsbasedschool.com 

We may be virtual, but we are still making lots of memories. And this one will be a year to remember for sure! Make sure you have a copy of our 2020-2021 ABS Yearbook by ordering online today. Deadline to order is April 15. 

If you have any photos of your student participating in remote learning to share for the yearbook, please send them to Sherri Carter, at [email protected] and please include the grade and teacher name of your student. Thank you!

Prospective Parents’ Information 
Due to the COVID pandemic we are unable to offer school tours for prospective parents this year. Parents interested in learning more about ABS and how to enroll their child will find information on our website. Applications are now being accepted. The lottery will be held on February 9th via Zoom at 4pm.

MAP Testing in February
Third through eighth grade students will complete the second round of MAP testing February 8-17, 2021. After the testing is complete, parents will receive an updated score report showing the progress your student has made this year.

ABS Regular Board Meeting
The ABS Board of Directors will meet on February 9, 2021 at 5:45pm using a virtual meeting platform. Board meetings are open to the public. If you would like to view the meeting, please email Principal Hollis [email protected] for the link.