Over the past few weeks, the support from our entire school community – and I do mean community (staff, students, parents, Board members, and supporters) – has been nothing short of amazing.
But I also must admit that I have been surprised.
I’m not surprised by the caring and warmth shown by our school community. Thankfully, that is a norm we have happily and gratefully become accustomed to. What surprises me is the level of praise we’ve received regarding our overall response to the COVID-19 crisis and the move to online instruction.
And that leaves me wondering… WHY? Aren’t we just “walking the walk” of those who are dedicated to ensuring that ALL children receive a high-quality public education? Isn’t every public school responding in the same way? Haven’t we done just what we’re supposed to do for our kids?
- We are supposed to create a plan where we continue to ensure that our kids learn, even though we know there is no replacement for live instruction, and we did. Our students are learning remotely through Google Classroom with live teaching lessons prepared and delivered by their teachers EVERY SINGLE DAY. Students are able to interact with teachers and classmates, and a regular schedule of daily learning provides a healthy routine and a sense of normalcy for our kids, which is critically important during these trying times. In addition, this week we held our first-ever VIRTUAL Parent-Teacher Conferences and even enlisted our high school’s “UNITY” club to stand-in as translators for our ESL families. As of this writing, multiple Foundation Academies schools are reporting 100% parent participation, which is something I’m so proud to see.
- We are supposed to make a plan to ensure that all of our students have computers and internet access to be able to learn online, and we did. With a two-person Tech Team and a group of staff volunteers, we made sure that EVERY student was equipped before Day One of virtual learning on March 16, 2020.
- We are supposed to be available to support our students when they need help, and so we are. There’s NO WAY a little social distancing is ever going to change that, and we’re using a number of communications tools to keep in close contact with our students.
- We are supposed to support our families when they need a helping hand, and so we do. We’ve been able to address some very real, pressing needs in our community through the Emergency Assistance Fund, and next week we are kicking off self-care webinars open to our greater Trenton community. (See this link for more info on our first one happening next week!)
So maybe I’m surprised, and a little sad, that doing what we’re supposed to do as educators is deemed extraordinary.
Not everyone has this distinct honor of showing up, every day, especially when it’s uncomfortable, to deliver on our promise of a high-quality public education. But it’s what we do, day in and day out, pandemic or not, and I couldn’t be more proud of what we have been able to accomplish thus far.
People are called to a career in education because they fundamentally believe in every student’s ability to achieve, are energized by the exchange of ideas, and see the power and possibility afforded by a great public education. My colleagues passionately share those values, and they chose Foundation because they want to serve shoulder-to-shoulder with educators who will stop at nothing, not even a global pandemic or a lack of tech-savviness, to meet our kids where they are and lift them up to where they can be.
I am humbled to walk this walk alongside so many passionate and committed individuals as we navigate the uncertain road ahead. We may not have all the answers just yet, but every day we do what we are supposed to do: working to become a little better than we were the day before, putting our kids first before all.
My sincere thanks go to our supportive school community for all that you have done and continue to do each day!
Yours in community,
P.S. If this messaging resonates with you, or a teacher you know who may be looking to join an organization that better aligns with their belief systems around education, please invite them to join our Talent Team’s Virtual Info Session on Wednesday, 4/29. This LIVE online session will introduce a few of our teachers, students, and leaders, and also offer live Q&A. In a world where job security is becoming questionable, Foundation Academies are here to stay and we’re looking to recruit more than 20+ new FAmily members to support our scholars for the 2020-21 year. Register online here!
P.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.
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.