The Roeper School is, by its very nature, an institution steeped in the power of relationships. We work every day to build and enhance human connection and believe that teaching and learning are strengthened through these connections. It is because of this humanistic foundation that we have a particular challenge when we try to bring this philosophy to a digital platform. We are, and always have been, so much more than a place that is merely about academic content.
During the past several weeks, as it became clearer and clearer that the Coronavirus was going to impact our community in a profound manner, our administrative team and our faculty began to work intensively to develop plans for virtual learning. Please know that our aggressive actions will continue throughout the run of this crisis; we will grow as educators, learn new ways to teach, and we will surely stumble – but we will also model for our students what it means to be persistent and resilient. Each of us is deeply dedicated to the care, support, and well-being of our students and your family.
On Friday you will receive a newsletter from me that outlines our initial plan for the delivery of virtual learning. The plan will evolve as we need it to develop. We know that parents are not educators and that the routine of school is a challenge to sustain at home. We will share tools with you, and most importantly try to maintain a sense of community as we work through the crisis. During this period of virtual learning, my newsletter will be published each Friday, and Division Directors will communicate with you each Monday.
Content can be provided, but community must be nurtured. We must work hard to stay in communication with each other, use virtual tools to keep our children connected with one another, check-in on each other, and help our children feel a sense of purpose and hope. The resources of our school remain: homeroom advisors, learning support specialists, counselors, and academic professionals continue to stay engaged – but it will feel different; digital connection is not the same as physical connection. We will need to help our children with the frustrations that will surely come from being away from friends and teachers.
Having spoken to dozens of other independent school heads across the Midwest, I can share that we are ahead of the curve in responding to this crisis. But we must remember, this is not one long snow day; it is a serious public health crisis on a global scale. First and foremost, we need to make good decisions that keep our families safe. That means, no playdates or meetings, and no trips for social gatherings.
We will continue to share information on school operations through our weekly newsletters; we will send more significant information during the weeks ahead, as needed, through email blasts. We will post useful tools for teaching and learning, guidance for counseling children, and helpful information for parents: on our MyRoeper Coronavirus post, and on the Roeper School and RPC Facebook pages.
Finally, I want to encourage our community to hold tightly to our philosophy and the loving guidance of one of our Roeper matriarchs, Mariann Hoag, for whom our Scholarship Fund and our Scholarship Dinner is named. Mariann reminded us that we need to, “take care of ourselves, take care of each other, and take care of this special School.” She was a leader who saw her share of challenges, and she persevered with hope and love for our families. She would be proud of our dedication, care, and commitment to each other.
We can do this!