Head of School Blog Post "Love, Connection, and Learning"

Sherri C. Helvie
Dear Orchard Friends and Families,
As we have transitioned this week to Orchard’s remote learning plan, I have been struck by how focused our entire faculty and staff have been on maintaining as many routines and practices as possible for our students and families as we move forward together.  The lessons we have planned, the messages we have shared, and all of our ongoing daily work is grounded in maintaining the love, connection, and learning that makes our school such a special place. Thank you for all that you do to help us stay true to our mission and values as we continue Orchard’s remote teaching and learning.  
Assistant Head of School Nick Eble, EC/ES Director Hal Schwartz, and MS Director Angie Brothers are working closely with faculty members and each other as we do the daily work of evaluating and refining Orchard’s remote learning plan.  Our team is reviewing lessons, assessing student work, fielding student and family questions, and reflecting on information about how to improve and create additional learning opportunities for our students that are aligned with our mission to develop and educate the whole child.  This work happens both in person and via online platforms as we follow federal guidelines around keeping our gatherings below 10 people.  Here is a screenshot of our second planning meeting of the day, which Nick, Hal, Angie, and I conducted via Google hangouts.
Please be on the lookout for a message from Assistant Head of School Nick Eble by the end of this week, which will contain a family survey.  We are eager to hear your feedback as we continue our planning.  In the meantime, your Division Directors and teachers will provide ongoing guidance about the daily and weekly work for our students. If you haven’t done so already, please listen to Hal’s podcast from Monday, or read Angie’s Middle School Update from Tuesday. Please also feel free to continue to send any additional questions you may have by emailing us at healthy@orchard.org
Our connections as families, friends, and as a school community will continue to sustain us until we are all back together again on campus.  In addition to regular communications to support Orchard’s remote learning plan, we will continue to share resources throughout the next two weeks about maintaining emotional well being, monitoring the use of electronic devices at home, and how to maintain social connections.  Here are some resources that you may find helpful:
Resources for families:

All of us have appreciated the photos, videos, and notes that our students and families have been sharing with us, and we encourage you to keep sharing them.  We’re compiling them in a video so our whole community can see the wonderful work of our school that continues, even when we’re not all together in person.  We miss you!
Finally, I want to share how an Orchard parent and two students have inspired me this week.  On Monday evening as I was completing some work in my office, I heard the school bell ringing outside.  When I looked out the window I saw an Orchard parent on the green with her pre-schooler and kindergartener, and her two boys were happily and enthusiastically using all of their combined weight to pull on the rope to ring the school bell.  Beth and her sons reminded me of the love, connection, and learning that we are all building together, day by day.  We will continue to honor that commitment, and every day during remote learning we will keep ringing the bell at the close of the school day.  

Thank you for partnering with us as we continue to learn and grow together.  I look forward to welcoming back our students and families in person.
Sherri C. Helvie
Head of School