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Coronavirus Update May 7

Update from the Superintendent of Schools

Update: May 7 2020

I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist ... teaching might even be the greatest of the arts
since the medium is the human mind and spirit. 
John Steinbeck

Dear Harrison Learning Community,

Great artists spend a lifetime mastering their craft and the tools of their artistry, a sculptor's chisel, a painter's brush, a trumpeter’s breath-control, to create transcendent and transformative art. Steinbeck observes a great teacher is a great artist. During Teacher Appreciation Week, let us honor Harrison’s teachers. When every tool but one, their unrelenting love for our students, was taken from them, they continued to touch hearts and minds. Teachers work in the medium of the mind and spirit to help children uncover their greatest selves. The pandemic has taught us an indelible lesson, teachers lift up children every day.

Our school buildings will be closed through the remainder of the academic year, but the hard work and learning continue for us all. We still are operating under an Executive Order that prohibits days off for spring break or unused snow days. As soon as it is permitted, I will provide a calendar that shortens the remaining weeks of school. I know parents, teachers, and especially students are tired and deserve a break. I am pursuing every option to resolve this issue.

The principals and I met to finalize plans for year-end celebrations and graduations in all of our schools. Perhaps of greatest significance is that the voice of students has been present and profound.  

Plans for high school graduation, prom, award ceremonies, middle school moving up ceremony and elementary graduations are being finalized. I met again this week with senior class officers, they are hopeful for a commencement ceremony that brings the entire senior class together and even includes invited guests. Last week I spoke of unanswerable questions, it remains unclear whether we can hold on-site graduation while meeting the requirements for social distancing. I asked the seniors if they would prefer to move ahead with a virtual graduation. They’re committed to an on-site commencement as their first choice, knowing it might not occur. We are planning for both possibilities. The senior class officers offered an alternative celebration to take the place of prom, and persistently focused on inclusivity. They are sharing plans with their classmates tomorrow, May 8, 2020. We will find a way to fulfill the promise of concluding this school year by filling it with memories both positive and unique.

The leadership team and I met this week to plan for summer program offerings, and for the opening of school in September.  It is uncertain whether or not summer programs will be virtual, on-site, or a blended model. We will assess progress students have made Learning From Home, adjust curriculum, rethink how students pursue mastery, and carefully attend to social and emotional well-being.  We also are increasing professional development to enhance teacher expertise in the virtual environment.  As always our decisions are informed by research and best practice. While the challenges are many, they are surmountable. We will be prepared to serve our students.

We continue to adapt Learning from Home. On Tuesday, an FAQ will be shared with parents on secondary grading in the fourth quarter. The research and planning for these shifts support student motivation, engagement, and scholarship. The approach is designed to best advantage students in the years ahead.

Principals will be sending a schedule so students may return to school to clean out desks or gather belongings from lockers. Follow your principal updates in the coming weeks.

As I complete my 20th communication since the beginning of the pandemic, there are several recurring messages. I remind myself and you that the best way to care for ourselves is to care for one another, our well-being is inextricably linked. There is one other persistent observation...the children are always watching. Not only are the children watching, they also reveal Steinbeck was right... a great teacher is a great artist. Please enjoy your incredible children expressing appreciation for the artistry of their teachers. 

Live with optimism.


Louis N. Wool, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools

Celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week!

Families across Harrison celebrated the dedication and talents of our teachers. The distance that separates our students from their teachers has only strengthened the bond between them. I know you join me in a collective “thank you” to Harrison’s amazing teachers!

There is no denying how much Harrison High School students appreciate their teachers! HHS Teacher Appreciation Video  

LMK Middle School teachers received many heartfelt emails and notes from students

Harrison Avenue teachers sent a heartfelt "thank you" to all the 'teacher' parents partnering with them while learning from home and students sent messages from home to the faculty and staff at HAS. 

Purchase School students sent a collective ‘shout out’ to faculty and staff. 

Preston School students spread love for their teachers!

Parsons School students appreciate their teachers….and shared some of their messages.