Duke School Planning Ahead

Dear Duke School Families, Many of you participated in Parent Night last week at your children’s grade level(s), and those of you with preschoolers will enjoy your evening with faculty this week. No doubt, as your children’s teachers shared plans for the days and weeks ahead, you recognized the herculean effort afoot throughout campus to provide the distinctive Duke School educational experience in new ways that remain as researched, thoughtful, and exciting as ever.   Providing Necessary Planning Time for Faculty and Staff Our core values include a commitment to professional development. Moving to an abridged schedule to ensure self-contained cohorts, our faculty’s collaborative weekly planning time was significantly reduced. More than ever, it is critical to provide time for teachers to hone their skills and reflect on optimal approaches to hybrid instruction, remote learning, and adjusted on-campus learning effectively. With this in mind, the Leadership Team and the faculty, working together, have made adjustments in the professional development calendar this year that will allow for the reflection and planning time they require to deliver an outstanding program. The Leadership Team has revised the annual calendar to include an early release day for planning approximately one time per month, dismissing the students at 11:45 AM (Preschool); 12 PM (Lower School); and 12:15 PM (Middle School). We are keenly aware that the adjusted schedule for teacher planning affects your schedule, too, and so we have identified dates for the entire calendar year and that are adjacent to other closure dates in order to reduce disruption across multiple weeks. These early dismissal dates have been added to the annual calendar and you may find the list HERE. We are especially grateful for your support and understanding as we undertake this effort. Supporting the Health and Well-being of Faculty and Staff We know that, especially during this uncertain time, it is critical that our students feel safe and cared for, connected to their peers and teachers in environments of belonging. We also know that, for faculty to create and sustain this atmosphere, we must attend to their well-being, too. We are working on ways to support our faculty as we all continue to face the challenges and strain of everyday life. We are promoting clubs and activities to safely socialize, offering time for connection to reduce the sense of isolation that results from how we must safely cohort at school, and underscoring the importance of self-care.    Volunteering for Duke School—We Need You! Many thanks to the BDL and on-campus parent liaisons who are connecting families with one another and with the school. Your service is much appreciated! We have also determined, with the support of our clinical analyst group, that we can safely invite parent volunteers to campus to support teachers in weekly collaborative planning or to help with other tasks to be determined by the faculty. All activities will occur only after parents participate in a safety training session and upon completion of the standard volunteer background check. Parents who volunteer this year must also complete a temperature/symptom check immediately upon arrival to campus, remain masked, maintain social distance, volunteer in some capacity only at their child’s grade level, and work outside only. The division directors are working with faculty to determine their specific needs, and Nicole and Jenny will share with you opportunities and the sign-up process in October. Spark eNews: All the News that Fits, We’ll Print Finally, in our efforts to continue to streamline our communications, please note that letters from me, the Academic Team, or the Office of Equity and Justice will no longer typically be sent in individual emails. Rather, our communications will be featured at the top of each week’s Spark eNewsletter. I will reserve separate emails from me for urgent  notifications. I hope that moving all communication to a central location will help promote consistency and eliminate your need to search around in many places for school news and happenings! I’m taking a “page” from our teachers on this one, knowing that fostering consistency and routine helps us all get through these unpredictable days a little easier! Warm regards, Lisa

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