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Community Update – April 16, 2020

Posted on: Apr 16, 2020

April 16, 2020

Dear Holland Hall Families,

Are your school days starting like this? (Notice that adherence to the dress code remains beautifully intact.)

It’s time for more formal feedback, including capturing your thoughts on when we might end the academic year. Please take a few moments to complete this survey by 4 p.m., Friday, April 17.

The question of finishing early? In italics and with a question mark because, as many of you know, I am a stickler for being in school. Academic excellence derives from an expert, caring faculty and a well thought-out and tested curriculum scope and sequence. There is simply no other way to dive deep and understand thoroughly than to be in school — a lot — and to experience the culture around learning that emerges.

But this is a different kind of school, for now, and due to the ISAS Arts Festival cancellation and the reasonable decision not to conduct exams, we now have more days than we need.

More thinking goes into the first and last days of school than one might think: sports schedules, exams, end-of-year assessments, grade level get-togethers, ceremonies, and the like. Because of the likelihood of not being able to return to campus under any sort of normal conditions this year, I wanted to get your sense of ending early.

Also, why not synchronous learning all the time? Our approach has been asynchronous from the beginning with phased-in synchronous opportunities. Asynchronous learning allows students to complete carefully designed tasks on their own time and accommodates logistical and technical challenges for families.

We also know from similar schools to Holland Hall on the coasts that asynchronicity, with a bit of meeting time, results in the most optimal, manageable learning. While the notion of a class meeting every day seems appealing, screen fatigue is real and, as we all know by now, a Zoom or Google Meet room is challenging enough with adults, much less curious kiddos excited to see their friends!

I hope you are seeing improvements from one week to the next. I could not be prouder of our teachers for their innovative and careful approach to learning from afar.

Here’s to a week of connecting and learning! I look forward to being back in touch early in the next with our survey results and some plans for preparing for the year’s end.

Please take care,

J.P. Culley
Head of School