Week One: Complete! An Update from the CEO

Dear FAmily,

Our first week of online instruction is in the books!

I’d like to pause here to take a moment to reflect on all that has happened in the past seven days. We have moved more than 1,000 K-12 students from a traditional classroom model to a complete remote learning model in a matter of DAYS, and I continue to be so impressed and rejuvenated by the professionalism and adaptability of our staff during this time of uncertainty.

Foundation Academies’ online learning plan was developed and rolled out by Chief Academic Officer Sheria McRae, and Director of Technology Damien Castagne.

I applaud them for their incredible work, and feel very fortunate to work with such amazing professionals.

For a first week, things went well. Of course, with any brand new process, there are still challenges to work through. Remote learning is brand new to all of us, and so I applaud our parents for stepping up, providing feedback, and learning right along with us.

We greatly appreciate all of the cooperation and feedback provided by our families thus far. Please keep the feedback coming! We are here to support you, whether that is with technology, academic work, or in other ways. Please reach out if you need assistance.

With regard to our online learning program, Google Classroom was the right choice for our students for a number of reasons:

  • Google’s free suite of collaborative online tools has become a great resource for our students, who already use many of the Google tools daily. Because they integrate seamlessly, there wasn’t much of a “jump” in learning how to use the Google Classroom platform.
  • For our youngest scholars, we are using a combination of Google Classroom for live teaching videos AND hard-copy papers. By doing this, we continue to focus on the development of the whole child, including those all-too-important early childhood fine motor skills. It is easy to disregard the value of those skills with technology on the rise, but the importance of retaining those experiences when moving our youngest scholars to online learning is immeasurable.
  • For our older students, Google’s tools empower them to be active participants in their own education. By requiring students to log in and submit assignments by 4 p.m. daily, they are learning that they must show up in order to succeed; their success is their own responsibility.
  • For our staff, Google’s collaborative tools have allowed them to adapt quickly and nimbly with confidence, giving and responding to feedback from students and parents almost instantaneously.

We are grateful that Google has made it easy for schools like ours to access and implement these incredible tools which allow our students to continue learning despite the current health crisis. In any crisis situation, it is important to retain a routine and a sense of normalcy for our students as much as possible. Thank you, Google!

In all, I am so proud of all that our school community has achieved this week, and am humbled by the positive comments that our families have shared with us. Thank you. Your support means the world to us during these trying times.

Here are just a few examples of the feedback from our scholars’ families:

“Good morning Ms. Millard, just wanted to thank you and all the other FA staffers for our little scholars. You all have done a tremendous job educating them. You’re all appreciated for what you do. The virtual learning has been going good so far. Thanks to the FA staff for a smooth transition. I know it’s not as easy as in-person teaching but I’m glad we have an alternative. Hope your first day went well. Have a great day and see you later today, virtually.”

– Ms. Cummings, Foundation Academies Primary School Parent

“You guys are awesome. The most prepared school I’ve seen so far. Outsiders always dog Trenton education, but this school is awesome.”

– Shaimarie Abreu, Foundation Academies Intermediate School Parent

Thank you once again for all of your support and cooperation. We will come through this crisis successfully together, and look forward to beginning week 2 of online learning next week.

Yours in community,

Graig Weiss
Foundation Academies

P.S. If you’d like to help support our students as they face the many unforeseen challenges of this crisis, please consider making a donation online today.

P.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!

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Graig Weiss

Graig Weiss served as the Chief Executive Officer of Foundation Academies from 2014-2022. He began 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.