Message from Chad Leith: September 8, 2020

Dear Morse School Families and Caregivers,

As we look forward to the first day of school, we would like to thank you for your patience with us as we continue to navigate this challenging time. Morse School staff members “officially” returned a week ago, and our teachers and teams have been working hard to get things in place for a successful start to the school year. To help keep you informed, we are working on a “frequently-asked questions” document with answers about our reopening plans and what to expect. We expect to have this posted to our website by Thursday. Also, if you were unable to join us for the virtual parent info sessions we held last week, a recording of our overview of remote learning can be accessed here

Class Placements
Thank you for your patience as we have completed class assignments for our children. Class placement decisions were based on family preferences for in-person or remote learning, recommendations from previous teachers, and our desire to create positive and supportive peer cohorts where all children will do their best learning. Later today, you will receive a separate email with more information about your child’s class placement and teaching team.

Family Conferences
Throughout the summer, a Working Group of caregivers, students, and staff met to make recommendations on Family Engagement in CPS, especially as we all return to a learning experience very different from that of last Fall. They felt, and we agree, that in this new reality, it is especially important to ensure that caregivers and students can still build meaningful relationships of trust with teachers, whether remotely or in-person. 

To support this goal, there will be a series of four Family Conferences throughout the first semester, and the first one will take place for every Morse School family over the next two weeks. This initial conference is a Listening Conference. It is an opportunity to share about your child’s gifts and challenges, your family’s experiences with remote learning in the Spring, and your dreams for your child as they begin school this year. This will also be a chance to communicate if your family would like to access support with technology and devices, childcare, or physical and emotional wellness resources.

Your child’s teacher will be contacting you over the next few days via email or phone to schedule a time to meet. After your initial Listening Conference, there will be three additional conferences before the end of the semester, approximately one each month. These are designed as academic and wellness check-ins for your child, your family, and their teacher, as you all navigate this new learning environment. We want to make sure that we are responsive to your needs, and these conferences will help us do that. 

Race & Equity Resources & Reminders
As a reminder, the Morse Parents & Caregivers of Color Affinity Group, will hold its first meeting tonight from 6:30-7:30PM. The group, organized by parents Alba Alexander, Jennifer Betancourt, and Kim Bostic-Williams, is intended as a safe space for the purpose of building community, sharing information, and advocating for children of color to be heard and seen, and to thrive at the Morse School. Please see this flyer for more information, including the Zoom link.

Next week, we will be holding our first meeting of the Morse School Working Group on Race & Equity, which is open to all Morse School staff members, parents, and caregivers. Co-facilitated by parent Jennifer Betancourt and Morse math coach Liz Vincent, the group is aimed at engaging all members of our school community in conversations about how the dynamics of racial oppression impact Morse School students, families, and teachers. Please join us next Thursday, September 17th from 6-7:30PM (Zoom link here). 

Finally, here’s a tip if you are a Netflix subscriber and looking for a way to bring some great new books into your home this month, I highly recommend the series Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices. The series is hosted by teen activist Marley Dias and features several celebrity readers sharing children’s books from Black authors to encourage conversations about empathy, equality, and antiracism. For additional resources aimed at supporting your family's efforts to offset the effects of racial bias, please visit the race and equity page featured on our school website.

Thank you for choosing the Morse School for your child. Together, we are going to make sure our children get off to a great start!

Sincerely,

Principal Chad Leith
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