Continuity of Learning (COL)
Because of extended suspension of on-campus educational activities, Maret has implemented its COL plan. An essential priority of COL is to continue to embrace our Mission and Core Values: Respect + Integrity, Excellence + Creativity, The Individual + Connectedness, and Joy.
Maret is a vibrant, K–12, coeducational, independent school in Washington, DC. We ignite our students’ potential; foster their academic, artistic, and athletic talents; and promote their well-being. We develop the mind, nurture curiosity, welcome challenge, embrace joy, and build community that is equitable and inclusive.
COL Research & Findings
Given the breadth of perspectives in our community, it is crucial to acknowledge that we are all experiencing this crisis differently and that the lens through which we each evaluate the success of COL will be shaped by the challenges present in our particular household. During the first three weeks of COL, we worked hard to collect and reflect on the wide range of feedback provided by our community about how they are experiencing the program. This data has allowed us to:
- Identify areas where community consensus has existed within the responses we received.
- In areas where consensus is elusive, create a window through which to see, appreciate, and empathize with members of our community who are experiencing the crisis differently.
- Essential Skills
- COL Goals
- COL Summary by Division
- COL Expectations
- Responsible Use Policy
- Digital Citizenship
- Grades and Assessments
- Tech Preparation at Home
Beyond the content specific to designated academic courses, Maret teachers help students develop the essential skills they need to be well-rounded adults in a rapidly evolving world. Keeping true to our Mission, our goal is for students to use these skills to inquire deeply, think critically, and act responsibly in all aspects of their lives.
The overarching goal of COL is to maintain strong relationships and high expectations among our students, our faculty, and our community.
Maret’s COL program will take place through a blended model of synchronous and asynchronous engagements designed to foster student learning, safety and belonging, and well-being.
- Community connection of learners.
- Strong home-school partnership.
- Integrity of our excellent academic program.
- Ability to meet the needs of, and support, individual students.
- K-4 homeroom teachers will post lessons and activities by 8:00pm the evening before the assignments are to be completed. This will allow parents to preview the next day's work. There will be specific assignments each day for reading, writing, and math.
- Homeroom teachers will interact with their students through a daily synchronous lesson as a whole class or in small groups.
- Students will have one resource class per day (Art, Music, Science, Spanish, or Wellness) and a daily PE activity. Two of the PE activities will be synchronous.
- Students are expected to read independently for 20-30 minutes a day depending on their grade-level.
- Meetings once a week in Synchronous classes (live, online classes). These are reflected in the schedule attached. These include a weekly Advising time.
- Art, Music, and Wellness classes have been added into the schedule. (Design Thinking is added into the 7th grade only). These classes will offer weekly assignments via PowerSchool or email.
- PE classes will be running synchronous classes twice a week for 5th and 6th grade. PE classes will be once a week for 7th and 8th grade classes. These are synchronous times when students can follow a series of activities led by our Athletics department.
- Teachers will be available synchronously or via email once a week for students.
- Each US class period has 90 minutes total a day--inclusive of “class,” learning activities and homework.
- Advising meets once a week for 25-30 minutes.
- By 9:00am teachers post assignments for the day, unless that class meets synchronously on that day. Synchronous classes (S) meet between 30-45 minutes.
- In addition to the short-term plan, Performing and Visual Arts classes will be included.
- Faculty will post their office hours, which will be offered once a week for 30-45 minutes.
PARTICIPATION IN COL—Student responsibilities and guidelines for COL are no different than our accepted and understood campus teaching and learning expectations outlined in Maret’s Responsible Use Policies, Student and Faculty Handbooks, and Code of Conduct. These expectations are summarized below:
- Be courteous to other participants.
- Be punctual.
- Speak clearly and at a regular volume.
- Avoid eating during the sessions.
- Keep body movements and distractions, including other noise, to a minimum.
- Follow your teachers’ directions about muting mics and asking questions.
- “Be Present”—avoid interrupting others, having side conversations and text chats.
- Be mindful of your distance from the camera and how you are seen on screen.
- Be sure that shades/blinds/curtains behind you are closed to reduce glare.
- Be prepared by sitting at a suitable space prepared to work and avoid lounging on couches or beds.
- Avoid sitting outside to keep background noise to a minimum.
- The school dress code is in effect during all sessions.
USE OF COL PLATFORMS—Maret uses SeeSaw, PowerSchool, Zoom, Google Meet, and other online platforms/tools deemed appropriate by the School to conduct meaningful teaching and learning. COL platforms used by Maret are understood to be for school and educational use only. The use of these platforms for any other purpose without written consent by Maret School is prohibited. Failure to comply with this directive may result in disciplinary action.
COL POLICIES AND PROCEDURES—The Maret community understands and acknowledges that COL is a continuation of daily teaching and learning, not only for our faculty and students, but also for their parents and guardians. In addition to the expectations outlined above, it is critical to understand and abide by the following:
- Participants in a video conference (or any other aspect of COL) are expected to comport themselves as they would on campus. Only faculty are to initiate, record, post, and share class videos. Students should not mute and/or disconnect any participant during a session.
- As is provided during our on-campus program, advisors, teachers, learning specialists, and administrators often conduct one-to-one meetings with students when appropriate. These meetings usually entail academic and/or social-emotional support. Virtually, Maret faculty members may meet with students to discuss a range of educational, personal, and/or social development issues. Toward that end, participation in COL and its virtual one-on-one meetings constitutes acceptance of this approach and agreement to release and indemnify Maret and its faculty from any claim whatsoever in the implementation of services, including counseling and related emotional support sessions.
- Participants’ images, likenesses, or voices may be recorded while using Zoom, Google Meet, or other platforms. In some cases, such as recording of synchronous teacher-led lessons, these recordings will be made available for student review.
- Without express and written permission from a Division Director or Head of School, users (including students) may not record, screenshot, share, re-post, or otherwise capture or disseminate digital content created through these or any other platforms. Only representatives of the School may capture or post such content. Failure to comply with this directive may result in disciplinary action.
- Each platform that Maret employs for teaching and learning has specific user agreements. Please review these agreements.
While minimal, there may be risks related to the use of online platforms. As participants in COL, parents and guardians recognize and accept those risks. A student’s participation in school activities via COL serves as a student’s and parent’s/guardian’s acknowledgment and acceptance of Maret’s COL program and adherence to all of the COL Expectations, including this addendum.
Technology is a critical tool that helps us achieve Maret's Core Values by facilitating interactions and providing access to the world beyond Maret. However, this tool requires thoughtful and careful use so that we may foster a learning environment where all members of the community feel both respected and connected to each other. The way we use computing devices and engage online should mirror our Core Values.
Digital citizenship is an essential skill for our students. Learning how to navigate the complex online world is a complicated process. As students enter the world of technology, we address each stage of this process to guide and help students make good decisions.
At Maret, we educate students to understand how to use technology responsibly and in positive ways. Our students learn strategies to navigate the social, emotional, and intellectual impact of a ever-changing technological world.
Maret is also committed to helping our families and community navigate technology. The resources on this page will help you make decisions that are appropriate for your family. While there may be a tendency to block or avoid technology, it is more effective to determine a positive approach and agree on the standards acceptable for your family.
Maret has partnered with Common Sense Media to provide additional resources for our community. Additionally, digital citizenship and technology workshops will be offered to families during the school year.
Common Sense Media is the leading independent nonprofit organization dedicated to helping kids thrive in a world of media and technology. We empower parents, teachers, and policymakers by providing unbiased information, trusted advice, and innovative tools to help them harness the power of media and technology as a positive force in all kids’ lives. LEARN MORE
- Be Web Smart - http://www.bewebsmart.com
- CommonSenseMedia – http://www.commonsensemedia.
- CyberWise - http://www.cyberwise.org/
- StaySafeOnline - https://staysafeonline.org/get-involved/at-home/ra...
- MediaSmarts - http://mediasmarts.ca/parents
- Family Online Safety Institute - https://www.fosi.org/good-
Maret teachers in 6th through 12th Grades are going to continue to give letter grades for the fourth quarter. We believe that grades offer a more accurate assessment of our students’ progress than would a pass/fail designation. Maintaining our regular grading routines with clear rubrics and feedback loops will provide consistency for students in these uncertain times. Faculty recognize the increased challenges that accompany completing work through our COL plan and will develop curriculum and assessments that are sensitive to these new realities.
All students should be prepared to participate effectively in the Continuity of Learning Plan. To do so, students will need:
- a reliable laptop computer (with charging cable), a desktop computer, or a tablet computer (preferably with keyboard). Multi-student households may need access to more than one device.
- a strong and reliable Internet connection. (A printer may be helpful but is not required as teachers will operate with a paperless classroom).
If your family needs support with obtaining a device or Internet access, please complete the form below. We will reach out to you directly to discuss.
- June 12, 2020 - Completing an Unusual Year
- June 5, 2020 - Our Work To Combat Racism and Bigotry
- June 2, 2020 - Important Information About Tonight's Conversation with Parents
- May 29, 2020 - End-of-Year Details and Updates
- May 29, 2020 - Our Continued and Collective Fight Against Racism
- May 22, 2020 - Happy Memorial Day Weekend!
- May 17, 2020 - Updates and Opportunities
- May 10, 2020 - Community Connections
- May 3, 2020 - End of the Year and Beyond
- April 27, 2020 - Updates and Reminders
- April 20, 2020 - Environmental Spirit Week and a Few Reminders
- April 9, 2020 - Important Information for the Weeks Ahead
- April 3, 2020 - Frog Friday Videos
- March 30, 2020 - COL Video & Virtual Conversations with Marjo
The past few weeks have been tumultuous ones as Americans wrestle with the continuing reality of racism. Even though the Maret community is not physically together due to the pandemic, many of us believe we can figuratively join hands by sharing resources and supporting each other. Many students, alumni, and parents have made constructive suggestions about steps that Maret can take to more truly live its Mission of building a community that is equitable and inclusive.
For the past 10 years, I have co-chaired the very important Committee on Equity & Inclusion (CEI), which consists of nine members (among them a Division Director, a Department Chair, an Admissions professional, and representatives of all three Divisions). The original Co-Chair was then-Director of Counseling Holly Hinderlie; for the past two years, it has been an honor to partner with Courtney Cothran-Fenner. As the work of CEI continues to develop, Courtney’s responsibilities will expand consistent with her new title: Director of Equity & Inclusion. Courtney will again lead our annual workshop for new faculty on “Deepening the Discussion About Race”; coordinate activities with the Maret Parents Association; and work with the School’s educational leadership team to ensure that our teaching practices are equitable – especially during this time of COL.
I have been hesitant in the past to create this position, concerned that it would lead to the misperception that this work is only one person’s responsibility. Now, though, I take this step confident in the belief that every faculty member understands that our jobs include opposition to institutional racism and a commitment to the work of unpacking our own privilege – so that Maret can be a safe community for all.
My thanks to those of you who took the time to respond to the Parent Survey and offer your suggestions for improving COL as we move forward. I plan to host periodic Conversations with Marjo over the next two months. My next conversation with parents will be this coming Tuesday, June 16 at 5:30 p.m. Among other things, I plan to share some thoughts about next fall; over the coming weeks, we will continue to drill down into the details of all the possibilities.
During our last parent conversation, some of you asked whether our Counselors could meet via Zoom with you and your children. As a result, we offer you the following forums when our Student Support team will facilitate a discussion, answer questions, and share resources. I hope you will take advantage of their support and expertise.
For K-6 Grade Families
Wednesday, June 17, 5:30 p.m.
Dr. LaNaadrian Easterling, Meghan Keller, and Aaron Cahn
For 7-12 Grade Families
Thursday, June 18, 5:30 p.m.
Dr. LaNaadrian Easterling and Rachel Epstein
Even during these challenging times, we honored the Class of 2020 against the backdrop of Monday’s spectacularly beautiful weather. It was wonderful to greet each of our Seniors (now graduates!) and their families on campus. While arrivals at 3000 Cathedral Avenue were staggered across four and a half hours, all of us felt the powerful sense of connectedness that this meaningful milestone inspired. We certainly hope that we can do an expanded version on August 7.
During Closing Ceremony and in my various letters to you, we have shared many of the ways our teachers have shown boundless creativity and helped our students produce incredible and unique projects, even during this time of COVID-19. One other example is Kali Haley’s art video that was presented at the Lower School year-end event. Even though the school year has officially ended, our faculty continue to work very hard, engaging this week with a number of outside experts to deepen their expertise on various COL platforms. This afternoon, we gather for our final full faculty meeting to honor those who have served the School for 10, 25, and 35 years; and bid farewell to those who are leaving Maret.
Although the unpredictability of the future may have required many of you to change your plans for the summer, I still wish you time for rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation.
Dear Maret Friends,
We are seeing devastating and horrific attacks against Black people in this country. Though violent, racist acts have been occurring for centuries, the widespread dissemination of video brings an immediacy and a hurt that intensifies our feelings of anger, sadness, confusion, and anxiety. Exacerbating this grievous situation is the COVID-19 pandemic and its disproportionate impact on communities of color.
Now more than ever, we must wholeheartedly embrace Maret’s Mission and Core Values by continuing the fight against all acts of racism and bigotry. We must face and wrestle honestly with our collective history, and we must be steadfast in our commitment to goodness, decency, and respect. We, as a School, can do better.
At every major gathering over the past week, we have taken time to commemorate those who have lost their lives and honor those that are standing up against injustice. We are also learning about many of you who are showing up and speaking up in many forums, demanding that we not allow violence and racism to continue.
We have compiled resources for your family’s use on our website at this link: Supporting Our Black Community. While certainly not exhaustive, this is a place for us to continue the work of building a better, safer, and more equitable community, nation, and world. If you have other suggestions for us, please send them my way.
We also want to reach out to you as members of our larger community and offer our love and support in this very difficult time.
Please take care and be safe,
Head of School
I hope you will join me virtually for tonight’s (Tuesday) final weekly conversation at 5:30pm, when I will be discussing some important issues.
We will begin with a moment of silence to honor the tragic, violent, and unjust loss of life among our African American citizens, acknowledging the widespread and compounding trauma felt by so many in our Black communities, as horrific racist attacks continue to mount. Each day, it becomes increasingly important that we continue to combat bigotry, racism, and hatred toward our fellow human beings. To that end, we offer these resources for Supporting Our Black Community. While certainly not exhaustive, this is a good place for us to begin, or to continue, the work of building a better, safer, and more equitable community, nation, and world.
I have also asked Director of Institutional Research Eric Heilman to join us this evening to discuss the COL data and findings that have helped us develop our program this spring. He will also explain the particulars about the new parent survey you will receive later this week, which will begin to take the pulse of how families are thinking about various scenarios in the fall.
Once again, I am forever grateful to be a part of this caring community. I look forward to “seeing” you at 5:30pm.
I will be hosting my final weekly conversation on TUESDAY, JUNE 2. I hope you will join me virtually at 5:30 p.m. Director of Institutional Research Eric Heilman will be joining us to discuss the COL data and findings that have helped us develop our program this spring. Later next week, you will receive a new survey, which will begin to take the pulse of how families are thinking about various scenarios in the fall. While Tuesday will be the last of my weekly conversations, I will host regular Zoom meetings to keep you abreast of our plans for the 2020-2021 school year.
COL has meant so many shifts for our community, and one of these involves the ritual end-of-year return and retrieval of items for students, whether this is a uniform or library book that Maret needs back, or an art project or lacrosse stick that a student wants at home for the summer. Please read carefully our instructions for this year outlined below.
For students returning to Maret next year, we are going to wait to do returns and retrievals of all belongings until school reopens. If your child has anything they need more immediately, you should contact the appropriate Division Director, and they can arrange for a pick-up. Non-senior students who are leaving Maret should follow this same protocol unless your family is departing the area, and then we can make a different arrangement. For seniors, we will be sharing instructions with you in a separate communication.
For those Middle and Upper School students who would like to donate their textbooks to Maret for other students to reuse, please note that we will be communicating more about this process later in the summer. Students will be receiving notices from the Librarians about books they have checked out, but these are not due until we return to school. Lost and found items will also be kept at school until we return.
In terms of our incredible publications that we distribute at year’s end—the Woodley Oaks Yearbook and Literary and Visual Arts Magazine—there will be two separate protocols. If you have ordered a yearbook, look for an email coming soon asking if you would like to have it mailed to your home; otherwise, your child will be able to pick it up when school reopens. You will also have the option to purchase a yearbook at that time. In terms of the Literary and Visual Arts Magazine, there will be copies at Maret to pick up when school reopens. Both of these publications will be sent home to our seniors.
Another tradition coming up next Thursday, June 4 at 11am is our last all-school event—Closing Ceremony! We look forward to “seeing” all of our students and faculty K-12 at this exciting virtual celebration. As always, this will be a special time to say farewell to our faculty leaving Maret after this school year. We will also be conferring our student and faculty awards, so please have your children dress up in case they are spotlighted! They may also be seen during the final celebratory applause. You will be receiving your Closing Ceremony invitation with a link closer to the event.
I continue to so appreciate all of you for your patience and flexibility.
Once again, over the past several days, we have seen devastating news reports about horrific, racist attacks against African Americans. We know that for every action reported in the news, countless other incidents of racism occur daily.
In the midst of a pandemic that has had a disproportionately damaging impact on communities of color, our collective heart breaks for the lives lost and for the widespread compounding trauma felt by so many. It is, therefore, more important than ever that we continue to combat bigotry, racism, and hatred toward our fellow human beings.
The strength of Maret lies in our commitment to building a community that is equitable and inclusive. Together and connected, we will uphold our Core Value of Respect for each and every one of us.
Let’s all take good care of one another by honoring each other’s humanity, in word and in deed.
I hope you can find time to relax and unplug this weekend – that is my plan! Given that Monday is Memorial Day, I will host my weekly conversation on TUESDAY, May 26. I hope you will join me virtually at 5:30 p.m. The following week, this conversation will again be on Tuesday (June 2) due to the Board’s Annual Meeting, which is the previous day. During the summer, I will also be holding meetings for families periodically to keep you abreast of our plans for the fall.
Today is Frog Friday! Please take a moment to enjoy our Friday Frog’s highlights of the fabulous artwork created by our students K-12. I also invite you to view the full-length version of this year’s All-School Art Show, entitled Illumination.
I am truly amazed by the phenomenal resilience of our community that has generated so many meaningful ways for us to stay connected and whole.
For example, a few months ago, when we began reworking our plans for Senior Projects, we hoped to be able to offer our soon-to-be graduates something of substance in place of the traditional two-week, on-site experiences that had been canceled across DC. The clarion call we sent to our parents and alumni asking for ideas, recommendation, and opportunities was answered spectacularly! Now our seniors are wholly engaged in all kinds of seminars and workshops from The World of Architecture to Being a Talent Agent, from Development of Environmental Policy to Exploration of Advanced Baseball Metrics & Management.
We sent a similar request to our community to help us gather an extensive list of summer opportunities for our students in the absence of the usual on-site camps and programs. Again, the response was abundant. I am pleased to offer you this compilation of summer options both locally and across the country to help your children enjoy and engage this summer. We will continue to update this list, so be sure to revisit this page often.
Included in this list—because of our involvement with MSON (Malone Schools Online Network), which Maret helped to create—are a few Malone schools that are offering our community some great summer options. I encourage you to take advantage of these excellent programs, particularly at Waynflete in Maine and St. Andrew's in Mississippi. Details about these offerings are also listed on our Virtual Summer Programs page.
I remind you, too, of the considerable resources available on the Coronavirus Updates and COL sections of our website. You will find good ideas about how to take care of yourself and your family during these unusual times. Also listed are many ways in which you can serve our greater community. One recent option involves recruiting volunteers to help deliver school supplies to our Horizons students, who will be participating in the program from home this summer. If you are interested in lending a hand, please contact Maret Site Director Aaron Cahn at email@example.com.
Another way to stay connected is by showing your school spirit. Because many of you have asked to be able to purchase spirit wear online, we have launched a Maret online store especially for our new and current families and our faculty. Go Frogs!
While nothing can replace in-person, face-to-face interaction, I am so proud of Maret and the way all of you have stepped up to this bewildering challenge by keeping us all connected with your generosity, warmth, empathy, and joy.
May is always a bittersweet time at a school. Even as we celebrate the year’s many highlights and accomplishments, we begin saying goodbye to those who are leaving. Since Spring Break, I have had more than 50 “exit interviews” with graduating seniors—an amazing, resilient, and gifted group of individuals. They have given me a lot of valuable advice about ways in which we can continue to improve the Maret experience; and they paid tribute to the incredibly dedicated teachers who have supported them in so many ways. During Closing Ceremony (11:00 a.m. on Thursday, June 4), we will say farewell to faculty members leaving Maret at the end of this academic year.
I greatly appreciate your partnership and good will as we cope with these unprecedented times. My Monday Conversations with many of you have offered food for thought. Last week, for example, several parents asked for suggestions about summer opportunities for students; after all, many camps and internships have been canceled given the current state of affairs. In response, I asked Assistant Head Susan Epps to compile a list of resources. We could use your help: If you have ideas about camps, programs, internships, service opportunities, or other positive ways for students to spend time this summer, please submit them here. In addition, some of our teachers are considering virtual options for both enrichment and academic-based K-12 programming. THIS WILL NOT BE SUMMER SCHOOL but instead would consist of optional week-long sessions; pricing for Maret families would be reasonable – enough to compensate the teachers involved. We will send out a curated synthesis of these options in the next 10 days. AISGW (our local Association) is also working with us and other member schools on summer resources for our families.
Dealing with this pandemic has required all of us to accept an unpredictable future, something that can carry with it frustration and even anxiety. Planning for the 2020-2021 school year is equally challenging. In my message to you a few weeks ago, I mentioned that President of the Board Ian Cameron and I have organized four Working Groups. Addressing pressing issues, these school leaders and trustees will bring forward proactive and innovative recommendations. Please look out for more details as planning for the coming year evolves. Fortunately, we are also able to work closely with AISGW locally, the Malone Schools nationally, and other colleagues both nationwide and worldwide, to learn from them how they are managing the pandemic’s impact on independent schools. There are no clear models yet, but we are confident that we will be able to keep our Community whole and deliver on Maret’s Mission as we move forward.
In setting up the Working Groups, we drew on Maret’s Mission and Strategic Directions. Although written in 2017, they certainly capture the moment we face today:
The educational landscape is evolving rapidly and Maret finds itself at a critical juncture. Fundamental questions about the nature of classrooms and the curriculum, the impact of technology, equity and inclusion, and financial sustainability need to be addressed. These require us to recognize—and then balance—a series of dynamic, interconnected forces. While we cannot predict with certainty how the world will change, we know that change is inevitable and fast-paced. How can Maret not merely respond to all these forces, but also innovate—to prepare for uncertainty?
We will continue to stay nimble, sustainable, and relevant as we tackle the new reality.
If you have not yet had the chance to watch this week’s Frog Friday video, I encourage you to do so. It so perfectly captures both the hope and the loss we all feel as we navigate the rough waters of social distancing.
I truly look forward to the day we can be together again in person. For now, I hope that you will join me virtually during our Monday Conversations—the next one is tomorrow (Monday, May 18) at 5:30 p.m. I have asked Director of Counseling LaNaadrian Easterling and School Nurse Alison Goradia to join our discussion.
With four weeks remaining in the academic year, we look forward to important end-of-year events and traditions that will help keep us connected – the challenges of social distancing notwithstanding.
This week, on Wednesday, May 13, we will celebrate fifteen seniors who have earned the honor of election to the national Cum Laude Society. The following evening (Thursday, May 14), we will host a virtual Alumni Town Hall to connect and support fellow Frogs around the country and update them about school life during these challenging times. Participants will have the opportunity to engage with one another online.
I hope you will join other parents and our alumni for the annual Visual Arts at Maret & MPA Appreciation Night on Wednesday, May 20. We have a special treat in store that applauds our students’ masterpieces. We will also recognize the long, distinguished tenures of Marilyn Potts, Director of Constituent Relations; and Deirdre Saunder, master teacher of Art in the Upper School. And, we will acknowledge the many contributions of our outstanding family volunteers. Please look for your invitation to this virtual event to arrive soon.
June is just around the corner with its own full slate of celebrations, including Middle School Moving Up Ceremony; Lower School Assembly; Senior Night; and Closing Ceremony – which will include all students in every grade K-12. We are still weighing various options on how best to celebrate our Seniors, including doing something meaningful on Monday, June 8 as originally scheduled and also considering other future dates if need be for a more complete and traditional ceremony. Again, please keep an eye out for messages from me or your Division Directors with more details about these events.
Just as these wonderful milestones bring the Maret family together in many meaningful ways, so do our collective efforts to support the greater community. Over the past few weeks, many of you have suggested ways in which we can all lend a helping hand, from donating to food banks to running errands for the elderly. Visit our Coronavirus Updates page for a full list of opportunities.
Please also consider ways to support Horizons Greater Washington, which is celebrating its 20th Anniversary. Learn more about Horizons' beginnings on Maret's campus two decades ago.
Finally, a reminder that tomorrow (Monday, May 11), at 5:30 p.m., we will convene once again for my Monday conversation with parents. Joining our discussion will be Maria Lopez, Assistant Head for Curriculum Development and Lynn Levinson, Assistant Head for Student Life. I hope to see you there.
Enjoy the rest of your Sunday – and I wish a happy Mother’s Day to all the moms among us.
I hope that you enjoyed the Head’s Holiday weekend. Taking the opportunity to step away from my computer, I played Monopoly, read, and tried out some new recipes. I also participated in the Fun Run along with many other Maret families.
Now in our eighth week of social distancing, our School continues to adjust to the new realities. We greatly appreciate all the feedback delivered through surveys from parents and guardians, students, and faculty. Next week will see some more adjustments, including additional synchronous classes along with more activities in the Middle and Upper Schools. Chris Appleby and the Lower School teachers made similar adjustments two weeks ago. The Division Directors will send out more details soon.
Our team is working hard to reimagine Maret’s traditional end-of-the-year events. Believe me, if modifications to the stay-at-home orders permit, we will be prepared and nimble enough to conduct some of these events on campus. For now, though, we are planning the Moving Up and Closing Ceremonies as virtual celebrations. We are taking the pulse of Seniors and their families about their wishes for Graduation. Again, being on-campus as scheduled is our first choice; if that isn’t possible, we will develop fallback plans for an on-campus Graduation to take place sometime this summer, or even later if need be.
We are ready and excited to roll out the new schedule for 6th through 12th grades, beginning in September. Below is a video that explains the major changes, which were inspired by our Strategic Directions process in 2017. Since that time, our faculty has examined cutting-edge research and best practices for excellence in teaching. The new schedule carves out time for weekly wellness classes, club meetings and office hours, and establishes longer blocks for each discipline, producing fewer, disruptive transitions and more time for hands-on projects. It is also well-adapted for life with COL should the fall semester find us having to move back and forth between schooling on campus and at home.
Like many other institutions across the country, our Board and School leadership carefully examined the federally funded Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The CARES Act authorized the Small Business Administration (SBA) to make PPP loans on very favorable terms – to allow small businesses and non-profits to remain open and keep employees on the payroll. Maret is keenly aware that financial markets are volatile, and our country is experiencing an unprecedented economic crisis. Nonetheless, we concluded it was not appropriate to apply for PPP funding. As an independent school, we were concerned that little is known about the potential for federal regulations being imposed on grant recipients – including audits and even penalties. Further, with the funding pool limited and in high demand, we believed that smaller and more vulnerable non-profits such as Horizons Greater Washington should have priority access to these funds.
A generous Maret family recently donated seed money to create a COVID-19 Relief Fund that can support faculty members experiencing financial need. In a similar vein, we are also working to find money to support new requests from families for financial aid. Director of Financial Aid Bobby Holt is available to work with families facing new challenges in this regard.
We remain ever hopeful that this pandemic will start to recede, allowing us to take steps toward reopening our campus. Because we are also realistic, planning efforts continue in anticipation of an extended period of social distancing and further economic disruption. Ian Cameron, President of Maret’s Board, has created four Working Groups of both faculty and trustees: 1) Financial Implications and Scenarios; 2) Health and Safety Options for Re-Opening, 3) Human Resources Repercussions, and 4) COL Extensions into the Fall. All of these groups will grapple with these challenging issues and bring forward proactive recommendations.
Finally, please keep your eyes open for information coming your way soon from our MPA leadership, about ways in which we can all support the Greater Washington community during this crisis. Take time, also, to visit School Happenings for the most recent news posted on our social media channels.
I continue to be in awe of our Maret community’s resilience and fortitude. Teachers are working extraordinarily hard to provide the lessons that students need in order to advance academically. They are also ever-mindful of the social and emotional toll the new stay-at-home reality takes on everyone – but particularly our children. Please remember to visit Maret’s Coronavirus Updates page for the latest list of resources.
Ian and I look forward to seeing many of you tomorrow night (Monday, May 4 at 5:30 p.m.) to answer your questions about this information or any other topics.
I hope you are enjoying the four-day weekend and taking advantage of some time off-line as our wonderful Friday Frog suggests.
Below are a few reminders along with some new information I think you will find helpful:
- COL Parent Survey
Please remember to continually give us your feedback about you and your students’ experiences with COL by completing the Parent Survey. In addition to the best practices we are gathering from national organizations, your responses are so important in helping us shape the way we deliver our program now and in the future.
- COL Research and Results
Director of Institutional Research Eric Heilman and his team have compiled preliminary findings gleaned from the first three weeks of survey results from students in Grades 7-12, parents and guardians, and faculty. You will find a summary of those results on the Institutional Research page as well as on our COL page.
- Next Conversation with Marjo—May 4
As a reminder, because today is a Head’s Holiday, I will not be holding our usual 5:30pm parent conversation. However, I do look forward to seeing you all at next Monday’s conversation on Monday, May 4, 5:30pm.
- Organizing School Emails
One impact of COL and social distancing in general is an inbox flooded with emails. Here is a short demo created by Associate Director of Communications Zaw Lyn that may help you better organize and search the messages you are receiving from the School.
- Upper School Choral Performance
Last but never least, I am continually amazed at the resilience of our students and their teachers. Take a moment to listen to this truly outstanding choral performance by our Upper Schoolers.
First, a reminder that tonight at 5:30pm I will be hosting my conversation with parents. I hope you can join me.
Because this Friday and next Monday are Head’s Holidays, we will not be holding a conversation on April 27.
Today we are kicking off Environmental Spirit Week, and each Division has exciting activities planned for our students. Don't forget to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day happening on Wednesday, April 22!
A special thanks to our Students for Environmental Action, who have created a friendly and fun competition for their Upper School classmates and teachers. Here are a few of their suggestions that we can all engage in from home:
- Clean up a park/sidewalks or areas around your home, but make sure to keep your distance!
- Plant something —try and use plants/seeds you already have instead of going out to buy them.
- Eat a vegetarian meal
- Explore a park or open green space
- Participate in the Virtual Fun Run on Saturday, April 25.
- Upcycle an object or materials.
- Find ways to reuse items.
- Wear a green shirt on Wednesday, April 22 for Earth Day!
- Write to your local public officials urging observance of good environmental practices.
Let’s all participate in the fun!
As we wrap up another week of Continuity of Learning (COL), it has been tremendously helpful to engage with you through online parent conversations and our Parent Survey. By continuing to participate in both venues, you help us make COL the best program it can be. As a reminder to all of us: We are not striving to be perfect but rather embrace a growth mindset as we continue to embark on this new experiment of delivering critical skills and content. You can join the “Conversations with Marjo” on Mondays at 5:30 p.m. The Parent Survey is also available on the COL webpages accessed through the Parent Portal.
We have already implemented some of your suggestions, while others – such as providing more consistency in the online platforms our teachers use to deliver lessons – remain a work in progress. We are pleased that PowerSchool seems more stable and reliable. In response to the survey, we also plan to offer additional points of real-time contact to further strengthen connectedness and to better keep our community whole. Thank you for your patience and support!
In these uncertain times, it is important to strike a balance between announcing decisions early enough for people to plan accordingly, versus not getting too far ahead of ourselves so that we can remain reasonably flexible. In that vein, yesterday I asked the faculty to be prepared to continue COL through the month of May. Nevertheless, we do not want to rule out a return to campus next month should changing conditions allow us to do so. Of course, we would like nothing more than to be together at 3000 Cathedral Avenue. But for now, we must prepare for an extended COL plan.
No decisions have been made about June activities. We still hope that our final weeks can be conducted on campus, allowing us to celebrate together and bring closure to the school year. That decision, however, is a bit further down the road. To prepare for the eventuality that we cannot return to campus in June, we are exploring ways in which to virtually conduct Maret’s much-loved traditions and closing events. One of my most cherished traditions is conducting interviews with Seniors at this time of year; I have already begun to do so – and although seeing seniors on my screen is not as satisfying as in person, I am loving the conversations, hearing how they have navigated through Maret, and what they would suggest as improvements. I learn a great deal.
Teaching and learning online offer some unique challenges that we’ve addressed through an Addendum to COL Expectations. This policy more fully articulates the School’s expectations for students, faculty, and parents/guardians as we all participate in COL. Please be sure to read it thoroughly; we are all expected to understand and abide by these important guidelines.
Finally, I want to acknowledge again the strain that all of us have experienced these past several weeks. It has been exhausting to get up to speed on COL; on top of that, we have the anxiety created by disquieting uncertainty about what the coming months hold. To help lighten that weight, I have decided that Friday, April 24 and Monday, April 27 will be Head’s Holidays, when no homework or other school obligations will be assigned. I hope that this will at least give all of us a bit of time to catch our breath, enjoy the beauty of spring, and rejuvenate before we begin again navigating the final five weeks of school.
I am so proud of our resilient and creative community of learners! Even though we have been challenged by the hurdles our COL program presents, we still have been able to experience many wonderful touchpoints that have kept us all connected.
Please take a moment to lighten your hearts with the week in review video below. This is the first installment of our "Frog Fridays" series that we hope to send to you every Friday.
Enjoy and Take Care,
Dear Maret Families,
I hope that you were able to relax and recharge (at least a little) during the atypical “Spring Break” that just ended. I know that everyone is working hard to adapt to the new reality of social distancing and mostly keeping to our homes. At Maret, we still have not heard of any confirmed case of Covid-19 within our immediate student/parent/teacher community; nonetheless, a number of families have loved ones and friends who are struggling with the disease. Please feel free to contact our nurses (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you need any support.
Maret’s faculty has been hard at work preparing new ways to deliver the curriculum to your children. You’ve received letters from the Division Directors and we update our Continuity of Learning (COL) webpages as needed. Please proactively visit the Parent/Guardian portal on Maret’s website to ensure that you can readily find the important information there – and please check back regularly. The COL pages are full of helpful information about coursework; they also link to outside resources that can help you adapt to distance learning and cope with the impact of the novel coronavirus.
I decided to produce this video in which I provide you with an overview of COL through a PowerPoint presentation. It also covers the important guiding principles that are embedded in this plan for teaching Maret students while away from campus. I actually found it fun to learn how to create videos and master (well, sort of) new techniques – although at times it was frustrating and awkward. I keep reminding myself of the fundamentals of “growth mindset:” failure is permissible and perfection is not the goal.
Please note that I am offering three online group sessions for parents this week. If you would like to participate in one of these conversations, please add the appropriate Zoom link to your calendar and join me at that time:
- Today (Monday) at 5:30 p.m.
- Wednesday at 9:00 a.m.
- Thursday at noon.
Each session will last for about 30 minutes. This will be a learning experience for all of us, and I will appreciate your patience and forbearance as we all learn to use this technology.
I will deeply miss being on campus over the coming weeks. My great hope is that we can gather together again in May – but, of course, we will just have to see how it goes.
We are all in this together, and I feel so fortunate to be part of such an incredible and dynamic community. As noted in Maret’s Strategic Directions, we have always strived to ensure that our program is nimble, relevant, and sustainable.
COL by Division
- Fun Activities for Families
- Playing It Safe While Getting Cooped-Up Kids Outside
- Common Sense Media
- Wide Open School
- Online Learning Leaders
- Suggestions from Our Upper School Student Council & Clubs
- Tips in the Age of COVID-19 and Social Distancing
- Keep Kids Entertained, Learning at Home, and Calm
- Social Distancing
- Self-Care Tips
- CDC and Other Help Centers
- Suggestions for Talking to Children About Difficult Topics
- Additional Resources
Here are some great suggestions from Maret's Middle School:
- Practice typing (www.nitrotype.com or www.
- Read a book from spring reading list (or participate in the new challenge that will be introduced soon).
- Do some Creative writing
- Spring Cleaning
- Baking and Cooking (Easy recipes for the whole family to do together)
- Good Housekeeping has 50 craft ideas to do with your kids if you are up for that kind of “fun.”
- Board games/ cards
- Online pictionary game (https://skribbl.io/)
- Blind Taste Tests
- Chopped Family Challenge
- Earth Day activities over the weekend- garden, bring a trash bag on a walk
- Write a letter to a friend and mail it with an actual stamp
- Start a puzzle
- Do a Just Dance Danceoff (there are many more than just this one)
- Set up a Nature Scavenger Hunt for your family
- Record yourself reading a book for Horizons students
- Visit Virtual Zoos and Museums
- National Geographic -Kids Activities
- Online Sports (from CNN)
- Sew/Make face masks for the family or local organizations
- Chalk your sidewalk with positive messages
- Maret Website has a lot of great resources and links
- Common Sense Media has great suggestions for meditation apps for kids
Common Sense Media provides an "innovative, award-winning Digital Citizenship Curriculum prepares students with lifelong habits and skills, supports teachers with training and recognition, and engages families and communities with helpful tips and tools."
Maret's Online Learning Leaders are available to support our families and faculty with all aspects of our COL program. Feel free to reach out to them at email@example.com with your questions and concerns.
If you are able, please consider donating even a small amount to the following organizations:
For Students No Longer Receiving Meals at School
DC Central Kitchen
Meals for the Homeless
So Others Might Eat
Domestic Abuse Response for Confined Victims
Donate Gift Cards from Local Businesses or to a Worker Relief Fund
Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington's Coronavirus Worker Relief Fund
Donate at a National Level
"How You Can Help Victims of the Coronavirus Pandemic," New York Times
Just a few of the recommendations from upper school students to help everyone get through this challenging time:
Stories To Lift Your Spirits –StoryCorps
Monty Python's Flying Circus
That 70s Show
On My Block
Weathering with You
The Game Plan
Good Will Hunting
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Perks of Being a Wallflower
Born a Crime
On the Come Up
The Lovely Bones
WAYS TO KEEP BUSY
Learn an Instrument
Tik Tok Dances
Try keeping to a routine
Use Face Masks
Find Time To Unplug
Get Some Sun
You are likely in the same position as many families across the country - facing canceled travel plans with cabin fever beginning to set in. In these uncertain times, it is more important than ever to practice self-care and healthy habits. It is natural for children and adolescents to feel nervous about the unknown; they are looking to the adults in their lives to provide reassurance and stability. The best thing we can do for them is to give them a space to talk through their feelings and thoughts, while also providing direction for the journey ahead.
- Children thrive on routine and predictability and need this to feel safe, especially in challenging times. One of the most important things you can do is to create order, with some flexibility, in your days. You can start by setting up a schedule that includes regular wake-up, eating, learning, exercise and sleep times. It can be daunting to know where to start but there are a plethora of online resources and sample schedules geared towards making the most out of school closures while maintaining a sense of normalcy at home.
- It can be very difficult to exude a sense of calm to your child when you are struggling to cope with your own anxiety. One of the most important things you can do is to learn and utilize stress management techniques that can help you manage your feelings. Research has shown that people experience an increase in cortisol levels, which is directly related to stress, even when seeing a stranger express stress virtually - a phenomenon called ‘empathetic stress.’ This effect increases significantly if the person shown is an image of a loved one. Remember that as you learn to manage your own stress, you will be teaching your child how to cope with uncertainty and difficult situations as they face them in their own lives and in the future.
- One of the most challenging things for those who aren’t experiencing any sickness symptoms is to practice social distancing. In order to "flatten the curve" and slow the spread of COVID-19, it is essential that we minimize our contact with others outside of our home environments until this crisis passes. This is a time to teach children about altruism and how by acting collectively, we can decrease the number of people who become sick. Our mindset for how we approach this time matters. If we (and by default, our children), view this as a punishment, it will feel like one. However, if we shift our view that this time is a gift to slow down and do things that normally get postponed due to busy schedules, we can find that this is an opportunity to:
- Learn new skills, play games, read, write and create.
- Reconnect with family and friends via phone calls, snail mail, and video chats.
- Tackle projects, get organized and clean.
- Virtually visit museums from around the world and other kid-friendly field trips.
- Get outside, explore nature and exercise as a family.
Remember that this too shall pass and someday life will return to normal. In the meantime, I hope that these suggestions are helpful as you prepare for a staycation this spring break. Our community is strong and we will get through this together.
– Dr. LaNaadrian Easterling, Director of Counseling
Resources to Deal with School Closures
Common Sense Media, 03-18-20
– Jim Steyer, Founder & Chief Executive OfficeAs we all scrambled last week to comprehend the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, we quickly compiled and shared a list of resources that families and educators could rely on. With the help of a few extra days, our team of editors packaged the most relevant tips, tools, articles, and more for both families and educators.
For 15 years parents and educators have turned to Common Sense to get media and tech recommendations for kids. Although we'd never anticipated a time like this, we're committed to providing you the best ratings, reviews, and advice so you can keep your kids safely entertained and learning at home.
If you're a parent or caregiver, visit our new Resources for Families During the Coronavirus Pandemic hub. You'll find articles, lists, and more on:
- Learning at home and homework help
- Helping kids understand COVID-19 news coverage
- What to watch, read, and play
- How to stay calm for you and your kids
- Spanish language resources for Latinx families
If you're an educator, check out our new Resources for Educators During the Coronavirus Pandemic hub to help you deal with everything from a virtual classroom to student anxiety. You'll find:
- Tools and advice for virtual learning
- Resources for digital citizenship and well-being
- Parent support for learning at home
Our editors will be updating these hubs regularly to give you the most timely advice. And, since we know that not all students have access to tech at home, our advocacy team is working with policymakers and industry leaders to connect all students, wherever they're learning. Stay tuned for more on that.
If you are feeling anxious, taking a break or scaling back from the news cycle. Trust that your school and your parents/guardians will share important information. Try finding a non-digital distraction like reading, spending time with family/friends, or another creative activity.
MEDITATE: Having a regular meditation practice, for 10 minutes per day, can be life-changing. Research shows that meditation reduces stress, controls anxiety, and makes you more mindful and self-aware. Even a few deep breaths in the middle of the day can help you to regain focus and relieve stress. A short, daily practice can be more effective than long sessions, so if you’re new to meditation, try starting with a mindfulness app like Headspace or Calm.
CREATE: Creative expression has multiple benefits for emotional health. It gives people a way to release complicated emotions through music, journaling, visual arts, or hobbies. Extracurricular activities that invoke a sense of peace and calm can be very effective for reducing stress. Try spending 15-30 minutes writing, drawing, dancing, or making music.
- Ask clarifying questions to get a better understanding of what your child is asking.
- Be developmentally appropriate. Don’t volunteer too much information, as this may be overwhelming. Instead, try to answer your child’s questions. Do your best to answer honestly and clearly, but do not give more information than is age-appropriate and/or necessary. Instead of tackling a conversation or a question in one conversation, you can always circle back if needed.
- Invite your child to ask questions. It is okay if you cannot answer everything; being available for your child is what matters.
- Don’t let your own anxiety take over. Parents can get worried about explaining everything rather than just answering the specific question that was posed.
- Avoid overly focusing on the subject. Gauge how much you talk about the topic depending on the age of the child. Young children may not need to know much.
- Share what you are doing to stay safe. An important way to reassure children is to emphasize the safety precautions that you are taking.
- Empower children and help them feel in control. Help them figure out what they can do to manage their emotions or change a situation.
- Avoid excessive blaming. When tensions run high, sometimes we try to blame someone or something. It is important to avoid stereotyping or negative comments about a specific group of people.
- Monitor television viewing and social media. Try to avoid watching or listening to information that may be upsetting when children are present.
- Stick to routine. Structured days with regular mealtimes and bedtimes are an essential part of keeping children happy and healthy.
- Reassure children they are loved, safe, and protected by you and others.
TALKING TO CHILDREN ABOUT COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
National Association of School Psychologists
TALKING TO KIDS ABOUT THE CORONAVIRUS
Kids worry more when they're kept in the dark
Child Mind Institute (4-Minute Video)
HOW TO TALK TO CHILDREN ABOUT THE CORONAVIRUS
Harvard Medical School
TALKING TO TEENS AND TWEENS ABOUT CORONAVIRUS
New York Times
Frog Friday Videos
Maret's Frog Friday video series highlights the week in review and celebrates our resilient community. Check out other Frog Friday videos!