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Principal's Corner, January 4th - Return 2 Learn - Part 1

Re-Prioritizing The Things That Truly Matter

"Do non-doing, strive for non-striving, savor the flavorless, regard the small as important, make much of little, repay enmity with virtue; plan for difficulty when it is still easy, do the great while it is still small."
~ Lao Tzu

Such ancient, yet timeless advice as we begin a new year; so much doing, striving, feasting, and fussing when what we may need is altogether different; more non-doing, non-striving, frugality and remembering the sweet, small things of life. Just imagine a new year without a focus on material things, but instead on family, friends, and charity. Imagine if all the stresses we create for ourselves were completely swept away by simply re-prioritizing. Just imagine.

Happy New Year!   As you know, we are planning on hitting the ground running at SPARK in the month of January and that means I need to update everyone on our timeline to return to in person learning as well as fill you in on lots of information that we did not have prior to our Winter break.  So here we go….

Declaration of Intent Survey Results & Breakdown

First, let me say thank you to the Springdale Park Community for completing the “Declaration of Intent Survey” that was sent out at the beginning of December.  We had 99% (693/700) of our families complete their declaration for their child/ren.  SPARK had the highest response rate of any school in Atlanta Public Schools.  This allowed the SPARK administrative team to plan accurately and accordingly for the needs of our students.  Out of the 99% of families who responded, 54% chose in person learning at SPARK while the remaining 46% will continue with SPARK Virtual. Please keep in mind that the survey deadline was December 21. Take a look at the breakdown of survey data by grade level below:

 

In Person

Virtual

Kindergarten

62%

38%

1st Grade

52%

48%

2nd Grade

51%

49%

3rd Grade

50%

50%

4th Grade

56%

44%

5th Grade

53%

47%

 

With 54% of our students returning to Face to Face learning, SPARK will set the goal of providing each grade level with 4 days of F2F instruction.  With that goal in mind, there will potentially be changes to student’s teachers. A majority of students will remain with their current teachers but some students will be reassigned to a new homeroom teacher or new homeroom team based on student declaration of intent, ability to maintain social distancing within physical classrooms and teacher telework approval.

Teacher & Staff Telework Status

I want to provide you with an update on teachers who have requested and have been approved for telework at SPARK. Out of 23 teachers/staff who applied for telework status, only 11 were approved.  Out of the 11 approved, 8 of those approvals were homeroom teachers across 5th, 4th, 3rd, 2nd and Kindergarten. The remaining 3 staff members are support staff. 

Please keep in mind that being approved for telework status means that these teachers are allowed to work from home.  Teachers who did not request telework status will teach from the SPARK Main Campus or Kindergarten Center.  These teachers may teach F2F students or virtual students from SPARK. 

So what does this all mean?

With this information, we are now able to create new classes for the 3rd 9 Weeks that will begin on January 21.  Based on the total percentages of students who will return to in person learning and those who will remain virtual, we will now do our best to accommodate all students by assigning them a teacher to provide in-person or virtual instruction.  This means that your child may have a change in teacher.  It may also mean that a teacher may have a change in grade level.  We are committed to doing whatever it takes to ensure that we can provide quality instruction and a safe environment to all students and staff while maintaining appropriate social distancing within classrooms.

So what happens now?

On January 15th, SPARK will post new class rosters outside of the main campus front entrance and Kindergarten Center.  New or current teachers will reach out to all SPARK parents and invite you to a Zoom Meet & Greet scheduled for 1:45 -3:00 on Tuesday, January 19th. Parents will be able to pop in and say hello to their child’s new (Face to Face or Virtual) teacher.   This will be a wonderful opportunity to meet your child’s teacher and ask any questions that you may have.  

The 3rd Quarter begins on January 21. All students in all grade levels will begin with their “new” teacher on January 21.  Thursday, January 21 and Friday, January 22 will serve as an opportunity for teachers to get to know their new students and for students to get to know their new teacher prior to our Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade students return for Face to Face instruction on Monday, January 25th.  3rd, 4th and 5th grade students will return for Face to Face instruction beginning on February 1st.

Again, please keep in mind that a majority of students will remain with their current teachers and some students will be reassigned to a new homeroom teacher or new homeroom team.

A more detailed timeline for the month of January and February is listed below.

Timeline for Return 2 Learn

  • January 5th – Students return to virtual learning with current teachers
  • January 5th – Half day for students
    • School ends at 11:30am
  • January 6thAsynchronous Wednesday
    • Students will have work to complete that can be found in their google classrooms
  • January 7th – Virtual learning with current teachers
  • January 8th – Virtual learning with current teachers
  • January 11th – January 15th – Virtual Learning with current teachers
  • January 15th
    • New teachers will reach out to families – All Grade Levels
    • Class Lists will be posted at Main Campus Main Entrance & Kindergarten Center
  • January 18th – Martin Luther King, Jr Holiday
    • No School
  • January 19th – Last day for virtual learning with current teachers
  • January 19th – Zoom Meet & Greet for possible new teachers for the 3rd 9 Weeks
    • 1:45pm – 3:00pm on new teacher Zoom
  • January 20th – Asynchronous Wednesday – Teacher Planning
    • Virtual Starter Kits for 3rd 9 Weeks – Pick Up for all students F2F or Virtual
  • January 21st – 1st day of the 3rd 9 Weeks – All Grade Levels Virtual
    • January 21st & 22nd – Virtual Learning with new teachers – All Grade Levels
  • January 25th
    • Kindergarten, 1st Grade, 2nd Grade & SPED Low Incidence Unit begins 1st day of Face 2 Face instruction for families who selected F2F
    • All families who chose to remain virtual will continue virtual learning with new teacher
  • January 25th – January 29th
    • 1st Full Week of F2F instruction for F2F students in K, 1st, 2nd and Autism unit.
    • 1st Full Week of Virtual instruction for virtual students in K, 1st, 2nd and Autism unit for families who selected virtual
    • 3rd, 4th, 5th Grade students will participate in virtual learning with new teacher
  • January 27th – Asynchronous Wednesday – Teacher Planning
  • February 1st
    • All 3rd, 4th & 5th Grade students whose families chose Face 2 Face will begin on this day
    • All Virtual 3rd, 4th & 5th Grade students will continue with their new virtual teacher
  • February 1st – February 5th
    • 1st Full week of F2F instruction for F2F students in 3rd, 4th, 5th grades
    • 1st Full Week for All Grade Levels whose families chose F2F
    • 1st Full Week for All Grade Levels whose families chose virtual
  • February 3rd – Asynchronous Wednesday 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

I have inclued an FAQ of questions that parents asked of me during our town halls and coffee talks.  I am hopeful that you can find the answers to the questions that you may have here. SPARK Frequently Asked Questions

As always, feel free to reach out to me with any questions that you may have.  Terry.Harness@atlanta.k12.ga.us 

Looking Ahead – GO Team Meeting

Lastly, I want to invite you to join our January Go Team meeting.  We will be meeting on January 27th at 6:30pm.  I am anticipating that we will discuss our district issued budget for the 2021-22 school year as well as where our students are performing in relation to their peers and other schools.  All SPARK families are always invited to attend our GO Team meetings. For more information about our GO Team, click here.

As we embark on a new school year, I want to wish you each continued health and happiness.  We love our school and we love our families.  We are looking forward to seeing your kids back in our building or on Zoom soon. 

Happy New Year!

Terry Harness