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State of the School 3/27/20 Distance Learning Update

March 26, 2020 | Thomas Postema

Note: below is the transcript of Mr. Postema’s address on March 27, 2020. It comes at the end of the second week of distance learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Good Afternoon Mustard Seed Community,

How are you doing after our second week of distance learning? I miss seeing you, and I think about you all of the time. I’m hearing from teachers that they feel the same way. They really miss being together in the same room with your children.

Even though we’re apart, I’m glad that we can find ways to be together. Thank you to everyone who has sent in photos, stories, and videos to show us what distance learning looks like in your home. Keep them coming and check out our Instagram and Facebook pages.

Right now, the plan remains to be distance learning until at least April 21. All school events that would cause people to gather, like the Change Makers Benefit, are cancelled through the end of April. We are waiting on direction from state and local authorities beyond that.

Nevertheless the learning continues!

Students have been meeting with teachers over Zoom and Google Hangouts as we move toward experiences of synchronous learning. The eighth grade students had a two hour current events class with Mr. Choi. They discussed why during times of national emergencies it is especially important to get the correct facts so our actions are not harmful to ourselves or to others. Kindergarten students were delighted to see each other at an online morning meeting this week.

This week, we implemented Seesaw in the Lower School. We’re also using Pearson Realize, online resources that go with our math curriculum. And of course, we continue to use Google Classroom in the middle school.

You should have received a survey this week from our Division directors asking you about your experiences with distance learning and the technology platforms that we’re using. We will use your feedback to shape the program to better serve your children and to continually improve. I assure you that the faculty and staff are working very hard. I’m proud of the ways we’re meeting this challenge head on. This is new for all of us.

Let’s be patient and generous with each other as we explore this new landscape. If you’re juggling work and childcare—we understand; we can work with that. If you’re caring for family members, or if your household schedule gets scrambled on a daily basis—we understand; we can work with that. Your teachers are also juggling and experiencing many of the same challenges. We’re all in this together.

I’m grateful that you’re a part of this community. Please let me know if there are ways that we can support you during this time. I pray for you daily. Our faculty and staff pray for you and your children regularly. Feel free to send us specific prayer requests and we will commit to praying for you.

Stay well. I’ll be in touch again soon.

Thomas Postema

Head of School

Mr. Postema was the Head of School from Fall 2011 to Spring 2021, when he retired.

An educator for over 35 years, Mr. Postema taught math and was a school administrator at international schools in Japan and South Korea, as well as schools in the USA (New Jersey and Alaska). He taught at Mustard Seed from 1989-1991 when Mr. Cuervo and Mr. Johnson were MSS students!

As Head of School, Mr. Postema successfully led the school through the NJAIS accreditation process and the Together for Tomorrow endowment campaign, which raised over $3M to benefit MSS students. Mr. Postema loves to tell the Mustard Seed story and continues to be passionate about the mission even in his retirement.

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