Newsletter Header In the Middle 2020

Middle School Newsletter for April 5, 2020

These are most certainly unforeseen times and ones that we will remember for the rest of our lives. I hope that you all are healthy and safe and are beginning to adjust to life with social distancing and stay at home guidelines. If you are like me, you are experiencing a wide array of emotions, sometimes a bit anxious about all that is going on the world, frustrated or bored due to the restrictions in place, grateful that my family and I are still healthy, saddened by what we all are missing out on, and always trying to see the bright side and to find joy both with my family who is here at home, and virtually with my extended family and friends. The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting us all in so many different ways. I want to again say thank you to the medical professionals, first responders, and all those on the front lines in the battle against this virus. These true heroes and their families deserve tremendous appreciation and support for their sacrifices.

I also want to thank the teachers, staff, students, and families in the NYA community. We were all asked to pivot unexpectedly and to embark on an entirely new approach to teaching and learning. Several people worked tirelessly to prepare a strong foundation for this new learning platform, and Chris Mazzurco and Dave Gagne engaged in herculean efforts to prepare, test, and implement the new technology. Our amazing teachers have been going above and beyond in altering syllabi, learning new technologies, and preparing and sharing lively and engaging lessons with their students in Microsoft Teams. Our fantastic student body has jumped right in with both feet, tackling new challenges, experimenting with the different technologies, and offering help to both their classmates and their teachers. Our wonderful parents have been incredibly supportive, assisting students at home with new schedules, technology, and assignments; patiently dealing with the inevitable technological issues; and reaching out to the faculty and staff with words of encouragement and appreciation. Thank you, all! At times such as these, we find strength and happiness in being part of the amazing community that is NYA.

Marissa Markonish
Head of Lower and Middle Schools


REMOTE LEARNING SCHEDULE

MS Faculty Meeting Screenshot

MS Online Faculty Meeting!

We have successfully navigated our way through our first week with our new schedules and remote learning! It is important to note that we are utilizing remote learning, which includes a mix of both synchronous and asynchronous experiences, to provide a balanced approach for our students. In synchronous learning, students attend class and interact with the teacher and peers in real time via Microsoft Teams. Our new remote learning schedule has blocks for up to three synchronous classes each day. Asynchronous learning is completed independently and the student sets the schedule and the pace. (In our normal school routine, homework is an example of asynchronous learning.) Teachers assign readings, papers, problems, labs, video lessons, projects, and more as part of asynchronous learning. Our remote learning schedule has work periods scheduled into each day for students to work on asynchronous assignments, which may continue in the evenings and on weekends as needed. This mix helps to reduce the amount of screen time required of students each day, encourages the use of innovative teaching techniques such as flipping the classroom and collaborative dialogues, promotes independence and perseverance in students as learners, and supports those who may wish to work at a slower or faster pace. The Microsoft Teams platform supports the different aspects of our remote learning through features such as video conferencing, chat, reminders, and assignment distribution and collection. Teachers also post assignments and share documents in Family Web and/or via email. Every student received a personalized schedule from his/her advisor following this Schedule Template. The remote learning schedules are also designed to allow for some much needed downtime and brain breaks, as well as weekly advisory meetings to help us stay connected even when we cannot be together at school.

NETIQUETTE

Remote learning brings a unique set of expectations for how we interact and engage in an online setting. To help set the stage, we shared NYA Middle School Remote Learning Netiquette with the students to outline those expectations. Each teacher modifies and adapts these for what works best in his or her class just as happens in each classroom on campus. Students are enjoying trying out the various features of Microsoft Team and accompanying apps and software, while learning to follow the expected netiquette. Parents can help by reviewing and reinforcing appropriate online behaviors (e.g. judicious use of Reply All, why a classroom chat is not the best place to share the latest memes, and funny videos, etc.).

LEARNING COMMONSNYA Learning Commons April 2020

The NYA Learning Commons is looking great! With some additional furniture and books, we hope it will be ready when we’re back in school. Take a tour.

SOCIALIZING AND SELF CARE DURING SOCIAL DISTANCING

It is essential that we continue to abide by social distancing and stay at home mandates. As our “new normal” can lead to feeling isolated and lonely, however, it is important that we find ways for the students to take care of themselves and to engage in safe social interaction. A consistent schedule and sleep routine can go a long way in helping to boost wellness and mood. Rather than switching to late nights, sleeping in, and lying around in pajamas all day, institute a school day routine that is similar to what students experienced when they were coming in to school each day. Exercise and outside time are integrated into our usual school schedules and it is so important that students continue to experience these. Help establish some healthy routines to easily incorporate these into the student’s day. Set up an exercise station in your home, go on daily family walks, shoot hoops out in the driveway, play a game of corn hole or Frisbee in the backyard, etc. Have your student take on some chores both inside and outside to help support the family. Fresh air, sunshine, and movement will do wonders!

Be sure to find ways for students to safely engage with peers and extended family members as well. Students can interact with a single friend, a small group, or even the whole grade utilizing chat and the video conferencing features in Microsoft Teams. Encourage social time by designating a set time in the afternoon after school for your child to text, chat, or video-chat with friends. Set up virtual gatherings or even share a meal virtually with grandparents and other relatives using Zoom, FaceTime, or a similar app. Let students play online games with friends or watch a movie together using Netflix Party. Don’t forget to incorporate your own family fun with family movie or game night, walking and playing together outside, cooking a special treat together, working on a family jigsaw puzzle, or whatever your family enjoys.

Take a look at how some NYA students used technology to record Nice to Meet Ya by Niall Horan remotely! Nice to Meet Ya Social Distance Style

REMINDER TO CHECK EMAIL

As we are not together at school each day, email is a vital means of communication with students and families. As I said to my advisees, emails to students take the place of notes on the sign-in whiteboard and announcements at break and lunch. It is essential that students check their NYA email several times each day. Parents will receive emails from me, teachers, and advisors, as well as links to Ben’s Sunday letters and the three division newsletters. Please make sure that your contact information in Family Web is up to date. You can edit this information using the Instructions for Family Web Parent Information Form, which can be found in Technology Help under the Parents tab on the NYA homepage.

TECHNOLOGY

I am delighted with how smooth a start we have had with the technology side of our remote learning. Minor issues are unavoidable, but students have been great about working through poor connections, rejoining class if needed, etc. If you are encountering repeated technology issues and need support, please contact Chris Mazzurco, Director of Information Technology.

WEEKLY INITIATIVES FROM THE WELLNESS TEAMBe Well Heart

During remote learning, NYA is excited to offer a weekly wellness theme which will encompass strategies for the NYA community to persevere in the coming weeks. We open with KINDNESS! Discover how practicing acts of kindness can benefit the brain and nurture our relationships with one another and ourselves. Join us, and stay connected by sharing acts of kindness in a Be Kind Challenge and a Virtual Kind Club.  ~ Cindy Hould, NYA Counselor

BE A SCIENTIST AT HOME

Many of us may be wishing that there was more we could do to contribute and help others these days. Here are some things you can be doing AT HOME that can help scientists. Some are directly related to helping the fight against COVID-19, and some are aimed at helping scientists take care of our planet and each other. All that these tasks require are you, a computer, and internet access.  ~ Terry Bartick, STEM Coordinator

GUEST SPEAKER “VISITS” GEOGRAPHY CLASS

One of the five themes of geography is Movement, the travel of people, goods, and ideas throughout the world. As the sixth grade geography class learned earlier in the year, a by-product of this movement is the spread of diseases. Students learned about the devastating effect of diseases brought by explorers to the New World and Australia and New Zealand. It seemed only fitting to begin the remote phase of geography class with a study of pandemics. Dr. Jarrod Daniel, father of Hugo ’26, Delphine ’28, Cappy ’30, and Emme ’32, was a guest speaker in our virtual class last Wednesday. Dr. Daniel discussed COVID-19 in terms of the size of the virus germ (0.001 mm), how it works, the symptoms, and other facts surrounding this disease. He also explained how a ventilator works, and discussed whether or not asymptomatic people should wear masks. One reassuring statistic is that 80% of people who contract COVID-19 will recover without treatment. Thank you, Dr. Daniel, for your timely “visit” to our class. Knowledge will help us all keep the “panic” out of pandemic!  ~ Eliot Grady, Librarian, Geography, French

NYA SOIRÉE 

Each year, we look forward to hosting alumni, parents, and friends at the NYA Soirée. Given the CDC recommendations on restricting social gatherings to minimize the spread of the COVID-19 virus, we are making some adjustments. This year, we plan to transition the live, in-person Soirée to a virtual gathering where we can come together as a community, online, for an engaging evening of fun and impact.We hope you will join us!
Please save the evening of Friday, May 15 for NYA’s virtual Soirée.

CALENDAR

As Ben Jackson shared in his letter last Sunday, unless otherwise stated, we are following the general school calendar as it currently stands and will continue to follow CDC and government guidance for campus events. The “For Your Planning” section will indicate events that have been cancelled or postponed. We will continue to update you on all events as new information becomes available.

FOR YOUR PLANNING:

4/14 Spring Strings Concert Postponed
4/17 Sixth Grade Geography Expo Postponed
4/20 Patriots’ Day NO CLASSES
4/21 In Service Day/Lower School Parent Conferences NO CLASSES
4/24 Spring Choral Concert Postponed
4/28 Spring Instrumental Concert Postponed
5/1 Last Day of Senior Classes
5/1 Lower School Grandparents’ Day Cancelled
5/1 Grades 6, 7, & 8 Spring Dance Postponed
5/6 Special Olympics and MDA Hopathon Cancelled
5/15 NYA Virtual Soirée  

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