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It’s been about a week since the last day of school, and I want to express appreciation and provide some guidance on summer and the (more-normal) school year ahead.
First, thanks to all of you for your work as co-teachers at home this year. I’ve written a lot about this in the past, but it cannot be overstated. I also commend our amazing staff, whether they taught virtually or in-person (or some mix of the two). Everyone stepped up and turned lemons into lemonade. Somehow, even with the massive challenges and constantly-changing landscape, we managed to give life to our Home-School Compact. I’m proud be part of a community where the partnership between parents and teachers is real and so positive!
On a related note, thanks to the parents and teachers of our (former) 6th graders. We LOVED the 6th grade promotion ceremony last week, and we were pleased to offer a concurrent ceremony and have so many kids and parents come in-person to our live event. It was a beautiful program, and it was a pleasure to maintain this annual, special event that honors our oldest stars! That big tent was pretty cool too!
I imagine you’re wondering what to expect next school year and what you might do to prepare your child, so here goes: Next year, expect 5 days of in-person school with all subjects being taught each day. The bell schedule returns to our normal, 9:00-4:00. Will there be safety measures in place at school? I expect there will be, and Coates will tightly implement them once FCPS and the health department determine the appropriate ones for fall. I further expect that our staff will be ready to differentiate instruction in each classroom so that we can teach the grade level curriculum and more (we continue to have so many students in need of enrichment) and to work closely with students on skills that need to more teaching.
If you’re worried about how the wide range of academic levels in each class impacts your child’s learning, let me say this: Our teachers have always been skilled at managing different groups of students. Coates has always had AAP students, English learners, special needs students, etc. sharing the same space. There are social and academic benefits to having heterogeneous classes – it’s shaped the accepting culture at Coates for years. Our staff is well-versed in using a workshop model that moves the grade level curricula forward each day and incorporates regular, small group instruction on each child’s level. We’ve got this!
Expect that we’ll focus a lot on rebuilding social skills. Communication skills is a major trait on the Coates Mission, and our teachers embrace teaching this life skill. We expect that many students will need opportunities to practice after coming back to in-person school, and we’ll have lots of activities to accomplish this.
We’re also committed to promoting social-emotional learning and nurturing the wellness of all our kids as we get back to normal. Expect regular lessons on managing stress, healthy self-concept, and opportunities to connect with classmates in positive ways.
It’ll be an interesting year with lots to teach and reteach, and it may take a little longer than usual to set the stage, but we’ll get it done. The good news is that teaching works, and we have the best teachers.
So, what can you do to prepare your child for next school year? I propose the following:
- READ all the time. Make sure your kids read. You read to them. We have a terrific, specific system for you on the Coates website so you can do this well at home. Click here.
- As August 23 approaches, say things to get your children excited about school. You may need to promote and sell the idea of school more than ever if your child has been off-site for a long time. This can help minimize the separation anxiety that we may see in August.
- Get your kids out of the house. Be active so they get exercise. Be social so that any isolation they’ve been experiencing is lessened. This will mentally prepare them for joining a new class of more than 20 students two months from now.
You could do a hundred other things as well. But I’m keeping this list small on purpose because your kids need a summer too. Enjoy it with them!
Jesse Kraft, Proud Principal
Below are some other important announcements.Summer Office Hours
The main office continues to be open, but our hours are reduced, and some services are limited. We are open Monday-Friday from 9:00-2:00 or by appointment. Call the Coates office at 703-713-3000.Registration for New Students
If you have new friends or neighbors who’ve moved into the Coates boundary, we need them to come to school to register. The first step is to go to this page and get started. Then Mrs. Marney will be in contact to set up an appointment to complete paperwork.
It’s important that new parents register ASAP. Last-minute registrations suggest to FCPS that our enrollment is low and could result in the de-staffing of teachers. Please spread the word and encourage registration!New Kindergartners Playdates
Our new kindergartners are invited to the following events to see the school and make friends:
July 14 Playdate on the Playground, 6-7:00 PM
July 21 Playdate on the Playground, 6-7:00 PM
Aug. 11 Read Aloud in the Library, 10-10:45
On a related note, we ask that new Kindergarten parents mark their calendars for the following:
August 19 Back to School Night for Kindergarten & 1st Grade Parents, 6-7:30
August 23 First Day of School