Just a quick update on what is happening…
As you probably know, we are closed for students beginning March 16 through March 27, with all in-person instruction and special events postponed until further notice. Students have moved to online learning using the Google suite of software tools: Google Meet, Google Hangout, and Google Classroom.
While there have been some disappointments (canceled meetings, gatherings, sporting events, and school performances), I’m here to share even more things worthy of celebration:
- Firstly, our incredible staff has gone above and beyond for the benefit of our students. If I may use a sports metaphor here, I firmly believe we have an absolute all-star championship team who is confidently leading the way for our scholars.
- On Friday, all teaching staff worked incredibly hard to be trained on Google Meet/Hangout and Google Classroom. In just one day, our teachers were able to learn how to use and implement these tools as well as prepare 14 instructional days for all students!
- Technology staff (Damien Castagne and Anthony Petralia) and many volunteers worked through the weekend in order to distribute approximately 650 computer devices to our students’ families. In addition, families that indicated internet needs received internet hotspots.
- Staff members are motivated and in incredibly good spirits. While this weekend was challenging and at times uncomfortable, here are some of the unsolicited comments that I received:
- “I want to thank them [the volunteers] today for helping us and reminding me why I love working at Foundation!”
- “Some amazing work happened today. I think this is the most fun I’ve had here.”
- “We work with a bunch of incredible people.”
- “This makes me incredibly proud to work at FA.”
- On Monday, March 16, our students at all levels began learning online. Click here or on the video below to see Primary School Principal Cooper’s welcome video for parents. As we expected, there have been some minor hiccups, and we are quickly working through them. Just like every day at FA, we are finding – or creating – solutions to support our students. I am confident that soon this online process will operate like a well-oiled machine, even though there is no replacement for in-person interactions and learning.
- “Grab-and-go” meal pickup services for all grade levels will continue to be offered daily from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at 363 West State Street only. Of course, free and reduced lunch status continue to be honored.
- Counseling services and special education services and support will continue remotely.
- While our buildings are without staff and students, our custodial staff is continuing to disinfect and deep clean all facilities.
- All hourly (5 staff members) and per diem (4 staff members) staff that want/need hours will continue to be assigned responsibilities in order to limit their personal negative economic impact during these uncertain times.
- We continue to actively recruit staff and continue interviewing and advancing candidates via remote interviewing and model lessons.
- This week our College and Career Advisors are checking in with our alumni to identify their needs given the number of campuses that have shut down or moved to virtual learning. We want to be sure they have what they need to forge ahead on their paths to and through college.
Many of our friends and supporters have asked how they can help while responsibly practicing social distancing. As we work to support our students and alumni who are now facing lots of “unknowns” with new sets of challenges, we will most certainly need your support. If you would like to make a donation to help cover the unanticipated costs of responding to the virus, please click here.
We will continue to keep you updated as we assess our needs and navigate this brand new educational landscape together as a FAmily.
Yours in community,
P.S. Want to get these updates and others like it sent to you directly via email? Join the Foundation Academies Newsletter Email List right here!
Graig Weiss has served as the Chief Executive Officer of Foundation Academies since 2014. He began there 5 years before as Middle School Principal. A 2003 Teach for America corps member, Mr. Weiss taught Math and Science in the Bronx and the Dominican Republic prior to becoming an administrator and was selected as Teacher of the Year in 2007.
Prior to entering the education field, Mr. Weiss worked in the financial services sector with Cambridge Associates, LLC in Boston, MA. He holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science in Finance and Accounting from the University of Pittsburgh, a Master of Science in Teaching from Fordham University, and a Master of Science in Educational Leadership from the University of Scranton.