May 20, 2020
Dear Sycamore Parents,
I hope you are all safe and healthy! If nothing else, I believe we all have an increased appreciation for the blessing of good health during this time. We are certainly wrapping up this school year in a different way than we expected-and in a different way than we have ever done before. As we have been creating new ways of schooling during these last ten weeks, I have especially appreciated the gratitude and support you have offered to our faculty and staff and to me. I also have appreciated your heroic efforts to be part of your children's learning team in ways that you haven't done before. Thanks for your patience, your flexibility, and your perseverance.
As you know, I am in the process of creating an interim leadership plan for our Middle School. I am working diligently to create a plan that will offer the Middle School faculty, students, and parents stability and confidence in the 2020-2021 school year. I expect to be able to communicate exactly what that plan is in the next couple of weeks.
We are also planning a graduation unlike any before at Sycamore. On July 24, at 9:00
a.m., we will host our 8th Grade graduation outside at Sycamore. Our Class of 2020 is an amazing group of students, and we want to launch them into their next phase of education in person.
I know you are wondering what next fall holds for Sycamore. We don't know exactly what school will look like next year; however, we are optimistically planning to be back in school in person. I have created a Reopening Sycamore Task Force, and that group will work to outline specifics of returning to school from every perspective: educational, health, facilities, and compliance with government guidance. Many of you have communicated your concern about lack of information regarding the plan for this fall, and we completely understand the anxiety that lack of information creates. Because of the uncertainty of exactly what design we'll use for learning in the fall, we have decided to extend the deadline for release from your contract without tuition obligation to July 15. By July 15, we should have a good idea of our learning plans for the fall, including what kind of hybrid model we will use if it is necessary to implement a hybrid model. We hope this extension offers some comfort as you are considering plans for your families.
We're also refining our Distance Learning Plan, knowing that we may have to return to that during the year. I'm certainly proud of the quick pivot our faculty made to a distance learning model in March. We have learned from missteps along the way, changed approaches, and tweaked options. We have learned that what works for many doesn't work for everyone. We've learned that Differentiated Instruction is much harder to implement remotely. We have appreciated your feedback about our DLP, and we will continue to provide forums for that feedback and listen to your hopes and concerns. We will be working hard to refine our DLP and work for continuous improvement. You will be hearing more from our division heads about what we've learned from this year and how we plan to improve our DLP for next year.
Sycamore's mission is what drives us: "Sycamore School exists so that academically gifted children can experience the enriched, accelerated education they need to reach their potential and to lead responsible, constructive, fulfilling lives." We will continue to fulfill that mission, no matter what form learning takes over the next several months. Our commitment to our core values of respect, moral courage, empathy, and relationships will also guide us as we interact with each other, you, and your children. I've never seen a school in which there is a higher level of passion for and commitment to mission. That, above all, will endure.
The beginning of July will be an important time for us as we learn what mandates will impact us. You will be hearing from me regularly over the summer, and I will communicate details about next year as soon as they are available. Please know that you may also reach out to me at any time.
Sycamore and all of our families are all striving for the same thing: excellent learning experiences for your gifted kids. Although uncertainty abounds, we are all on the same team, and we want to do everything possible to meet the needs of you and your kids. I miss you all! I hope you have a terrific summer, and I hope to see you in person soon.
Onward and upward!