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State of the School 11/19/20: Thanksgiving Update

November 19, 2020 | Thomas Postema

Head of School Tom Postema expresses gratitude to the community. Talks about guidelines for over the break and the return to school. And shares about lots of great learning happening around school. (Including some photos!)


Greetings Mustard Seed School Community!

As we approach Thanksgiving and I reflect upon the many things for which I am thankful, you–the parents, students, colleagues– immediately come to mind. When we opened school for on-site learning this fall, we didn’t know what to expect. We prepared for all scenarios, and we hoped that we would be able to provide on-site learning for as long as possible. And it has gone very, very well.

Thank you for all of the ways that you have supported this effort: wearing masks, juggling staggered arrivals and departures, answering health screening questions, and adhering to guidelines. Because of your efforts to keep everyone in the community safe, you have made it possible for school to stay open. It has taken all of us, working together, caring for each other. Well done! I celebrate you!

Michele and I will have a different Thanksgiving than we’re used to. We will not be traveling to be with our parents, children, or grandchildren. We will have a quiet Thanksgiving at home in Jersey City Heights. I’ll do  some baking to round out our roast chicken meal. And we’ll see our loved ones over Zoom. 

We have asked our staff to refrain from travel and to keep their Thanksgiving gatherings limited to only those in their immediate family. I know that this is a significant request, and it is not an easy one, but it is necessary to keep your children safe and able to attend school on-site after the Thanksgiving break. I ask that you do the same to protect all of us at Mustard Seed. 

Please adhere to the guidelines from many health authorities.  They are straightforward: limit activities to those essential to life.  Keep your gatherings to under 10 people. Stay home as much as possible. Find new ways to celebrate being together over the Thanksgiving holiday.

If you choose to travel and gather with others outside of your immediate household, please keep the school community safe by observing a two-week quarantine when you return. This is really important, so I will say it again. Please quarantine if you travel to gather with people outside of your immediate family over the break.

Thank you in advance for your care and diligence. 

I want to tell you a bit about what has been happening at school since I last provided an update. 

Preschool students have been studying patterns–finding and making patterns everywhere.  This is where reasoning and logic skills begin to take shape.

Kindergarten students collected over 1,100 containers of baby food for hungry babies in Hoboken. As part of their math study, they counted every container, putting them into groups of ten and then one hundred. 

First grade students finished their Viking study. They’ve researched and painted Viking ships. They are adding the finishing touches to their Viking houses. In math, they’ve been delving into algebraic thinking, working with concepts like combinations and missing addends. And they are gaining more sight words as they grow into more proficient readers.

Second and third grade students are engaged in a study of soil science, observing different soil samples that they have collected and learning about soil composition. They will continue with their experiments and learning when they return from break. Second and third grade students have also been creating self portraits out of watercolor paint, and they are not shying away from the challenges of the pandemic. Although they have painted their full faces, they are also designing masks for their portraits, using the masks as a form of expression. By covering part of their self portraits with a mask, they are reflecting the times, and also showing truth and its beauty.

Middle school life is humming along. Eighth grade students are turning the final corner on the high school application process. Please join me in praying for them and cheering them on. Seventh and eighth grade students completed their music exhibitions last week, creating audio books, complete with a soundtrack. They are now sharing their work by building a website for their creations so that preschool students can enjoy the stories.  In science, sixth through eighth grade students are learning about interactions and ecosystems. And that is just some of the many, many kinds of learning that is happening here at school. 

Finally, I want to let you know that our annual Merry Match fundraiser is coming up on December 8th, 9th, and 10th. When you make a gift to the Mustard Seed Fund on or before those three days, your gift will be matched dollar-for-dollar by the Board of Trustees. This is an incredible opportunity to make a huge difference, right here at our school. Your gift will provide need-based financial aid for students, professional development for teachers, and put technology in classrooms. You’ll be hearing more about Merry Match in the coming weeks, but I wanted to give you a preview of what is to come.  In the meantime, feel free to go to the “Give” section of to learn more. 

Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving. Bye for now.

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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