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State of the School 5/1/20 Distance Learning Update

April 30, 2020 | Thomas Postema

Note: below is the transcript of Mr. Postema’s address on May 1, 2020. It comes at the end of the seventh week of distance learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Watch to the end for messages from the Shahl family, Reina family, Hughes family, and Ms. Sanders!)

Hello Mustard Seed Community,

We’ve made it to the end of week seven of Distance Learning! Thanks for participating in Spirit Week this week. We’ve heard from many of you that you had fun dressing for the different days. On Superhero Day, I enjoyed posing as Super-Dr. Fauci, one of my personal heroes during this season. Ms. Kuperus dressed as an Acme employee. There are so many heroes among us right now, including you. You’re balancing work, home, and school in difficult circumstances. Thank you for all that you do.

I also want to take a moment to say thank you to all of those in our community who are on the front lines: the health care workers, first responders, grocery store workers, delivery people–so many of you are making sacrifices, and I want to express my gratitude for how you’re supporting our community. We see your work. We’re grateful. We’re praying for you.

Next week is Teacher Appreciation Week, and while Mustard Seed doesn’t usually solicit appreciation for our teachers, this year we’re making an exception. I’m proud of the way our teachers have made the pivot to Distance Learning. It has been a challenging time and teachers have worked very hard. Would you join me by sending in a thank you drawing by your child or a video message? Send your submissions to Maya Butler ([email protected]) by next Tuesday. We’ll post your thanks for our teachers on social media. 

And if you want to learn more about what it’s been like for our teachers during this time, check out the interview with Fourth and Fifth Grade teacher Melissa McCallihan in the Stories section of our website. She gives a truthful, hopeful, and vulnerable perspective of what it’s like to teach in the virtual environment.

This week the big news in Distance Learning is that we don’t have a lot of big news! We’ve settled into the routine, and now we’re just doing minor tweaking. We’ll continue to send out surveys from time-to-time to keep the lines of communication open. Please know that you can always reach out to me or your child’s teacher or director if you have any questions.

This week, second and third grade students did a wonderful job on their Global Expo presentations. Sixth Grade had their Memoir Night last night. Eighth grade students will present their Math Exhibitions next Tuesday. Bird studies galore are happening in Rivers, Trees, Sky, and First Grade. And Ms. Choi is offering an independent study option to students in grades five through eight. 

Last night, the Board of Trustees met via Zoom for the very first time. I am grateful for this group that helps me guide the school. They passed a budget for the 20-21 school year. Passing a budget for next year is a sign of hope and expectation of God’s providence and care for our whole school community.

Next Thursday we will be offering a Virtual Tour & Talk program for prospective parents. Point your friends and neighbors to our website and have them look at the excellent work that your children and their teachers are doing at this time and all the time. If you know anyone who is looking for a nurturing school community for the whole family, please send them to the Admissions section of our website. Or have them email Ms. Sanders ([email protected]).

I’ll leave you with a few more videos of Mustard Seed School families telling us what brings them joy right now. I hope they bring you as much delight as they bring me. 

I’d love to hear from you! Send me a video of your family telling me what brings you joy and I’ll include it in a future State of the School.

Take care and be well!

Thomas Postema

Head of School

An educator for over 35 years, Mr. Postema has taught math and been 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!

Since arriving back at Mustard Seed in 2011 as Head of School, Mr. Postema has 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 is passionate about the mission to serve families from all walks of life.

Mr. Postema’s three children attended Mustard Seed and he would love it if his three grandchildren lived close enough to be students at the school. An avid traveler, Mr. Postema has visited over 30 countries in his adventures abroad.

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