State of the School 5/15/20 Distance Learning Update

May 15, 2020 | Thomas Postema

Note: below is the transcript of Mr. Postema’s address on May 15, 2020. It comes at the end of the ninth week of distance learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Watch to the end for a message about the service project from seventh grade students Roma, Josh, and Caroline. And the Moore family sends their greetings!)


Hello Mustard Seed School Community,

We’re rounding the corner to the last four weeks of school. It’s time to address the possibilities for the start of the school year in the fall. Members of the leadership team comprise a fall 2020 task force. Working in close collaboration with our main office staff, the task force is charged with establishing plans for multiple scenarios for the return to school in the fall. 

The health and safety of our students and staff is paramount. We continue to research and look to experts around the world: those who have already reopened schools, and those who are planning for the day when they can reopen. We’re also attending several online workshops hosted by the New Jersey Association of Independent Schools, of which Mustard Seed is a member. The first one is next week: Legal and Medical considerations. And we are looking to the State of New Jersey for guidance. 

I’ve heard the analogy that we have to build three planes. The destination of one plane is a complete reopening of in-person school. Another is a hybrid scenario with some in-person classes and some distance learning. Still another is the continuation of only distance learning. We must plan for flexibility. We might board one plane and have to change planes along the way. We might have to change planes more than once. Because we cannot know at this moment what will be safe in the fall, we’re building all three planes.

In addition to the curriculum and program considerations, we’re also reviewing all procedures in light of medical recommendations. How to enter and exit spaces. Use the bathrooms. Move from place to place. Whether or not to sing or hold gym classes. There are many questions that need to be answered. I assure you that we’re being careful and intentional.

We also continue to make plans to celebrate Commencement and the end of the year. I’ll have more information for you about that in the coming weeks. Along those lines, you should have received an email from Nancy Aberg ([email protected]) about providing us with your child’s t-shirt size. The deadline to respond is next Wednesday, May 20. 

Finally, I want to highlight that three of our 7th grade students are running a service project between now and May 29. Roma, Josh, and Caroline are asking you to make a donation to provide meals for guests of the Hoboken Shelter. You can Venmo your gift to @MustardSeedSchoolNJ (201-355-6635). We’re partnering with Mikie Squared, owned by MSS parents Cindy Samaris and Mike Fasciano, to provide the meals. Every $1000 raised provides meals  for 100 guests. And, as a special incentive, an anonymous donor will match all gifts given next Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.  

If you are unable to give financially, please consider having your child write a note or send a drawing to the shelter. The guests are greatly encouraged by these acts of kindness. You can read more about this in the note that you received from your child’s teacher on Wednesday. 

That’s all for this week. I continue to pray for your health and safety. Have a restful weekend.

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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