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State of the School 12/4/20: Hybrid Learning Update

December 2, 2020 | Thomas Postema

Mr. Postema reflects on Advent. Updates the community on Mini Term. Introduces Chris Casazza, the new Director of Development. And announces the Merry Match matching gift challenge, Dec. 8th, 9th, and 10th.

Want to know more about Merry Match? Watch the video below!



Greetings Friends,

We have entered Advent, a season of waiting. The focus of the first week of Advent is hope. Where do you see hope? I see signs of hope throughout the school when I walk through the halls. The fact that we are still open for on-site learning makes me hopeful. I see the resilience of students and teachers, and of you!  I feel hope when we savor the moments when we can be together even when we’re physically distant. And while I do miss being together in the gym with the K-8 community for Advent worship, I’ve been enjoying the skits and stories that are being told creatively on video. I am fed by the stories of hope that point to the coming of King Jesus.

Miniterm, the three weeks between Thanksgiving break and Christmas break, has started here at school. This is traditionally a time of special studies that supplement the curriculum and shake things up a bit. In the Middle School, students choose classes that are taught by teachers and older students. It looks a little different this year because of the pandemic. But Ms. Choi and her team have come up with some fun offerings. Here are just a few: Letter Writing with Ms. Rachuri; Video making with Ms. Jang; Graphic Design with Ms. Wu; Movies, Books, Trends, and Ideas with Mr. Choi; Crochet with Niki and Annie; Get Crazy with Roma & Caroline; Roblox Strategy Games with Anthony; and Kwanzaa with Ms. Sanders. I’m always a little jealous of our students during mini term. I’d really like to join in!

Around school, fourth and fifth grade students are collaborating in a new STEAM unit about water. Students are studying the big question “How can we have a healthier relationship with water?” Students are learning from their own research and from guest experts from the SUEZ water company. We are reflecting on the beauty of water and learning about how to care for it. Students will create public service announcements educating and encouraging their MSS and Hoboken community about water conservation and care. We’re laying the foundation for change makers!

Second grade students are working with quadrilaterals. They are using math manipulatives like number cards, square tiles, and geoboards, as well as work on different activities to create rectangles. They were surprised to discover that a square is actually a rectangle, too. And both second and third grade students are exploring worms as a follow-up to their soil study. And the worms for their study should be arriving any day! 

In other news, Mr. Chris Casazza joined our staff yesterday as the new Director of Development. Mr. Casazza is no stranger to the independent school scene: for nine years he worked at Saint Peter’s Prep, his alma mater, first as director of alumni relations and annual giving, and then as vice president and chief advancement officer. Most recently he has been the director of the annual fund at the Speyer Legacy School in New York City. His whole career has been in support of education, and we are thrilled to have him join the Mustard Seed School Advancement team.

Chris Casazza, new Director of Development


As an alumnus of an all boys high school, and then working there for nearly a decade, he says that he owns more ties than any reasonable person should and can probably tie a Double Windsor knot in near record time. I may have to challenge him to a tie knotting contest.

I’ll bet you’re wondering why I’m wearing these blinking lights? Wonder no more! Our annual Merry Match campaign is officially next Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. All gifts given on or before those days will be matched dollar-for-dollar by the Board of Trustees. We’re hoping for 100% parent participation, so you can make your gift now and not have to remember next week. I also want to challenge you: if 70% of parents make a Merry Match gift by midnight on Wednesday, Ms. Postema and I will donate technology equipment to the school to help with distance learning. Afraid that you might forget between now and then? I’ll let you in on a secret: all gifts given between NOW and December 10th will be honored with the match. So you can send in your gift right now.

You can give on our Give Lively page, via Venmo @mustardseedschoolnj or through PayPal.

Why does your gift matter? I’m attaching a sweet animated video to this email to show you. If you haven’t seen it yet, I encourage you to watch it and be inspired. Your gift will provide need-based financial aid for students, professional development for teachers, and put technology in classrooms. This has been a very unexpected and expensive year for families and for the school. Your gift of any size will make a huge difference.

I would also like to ask you to help us by sharing, liking, or commenting on Mustard Seed School’s Merry Match social media posts on Instagram or Facebook. We’re hoping to spread the word far and wide! It’s a beautiful campaign this year with lovely materials and videos. And of course the more, the merrier, when it comes to spreading Ho Ho Hoboken Cheer!

One final note…we are now considered to be in a high risk zone for COVID-19. The guidance for schools has changed slightly. Students who have a household member with symptoms need to stay home until the symptomatic person tests negative. This is actually in line with our policy all along–if anyone in your household is sick, your student should stay home.

That’s all for now! Don’t forget to join me for Merry Match. Stay Safe and Santa-tized! Giving is Contagious! 


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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