School Communication

Friday, June 12, 2020

Dear Forest Bluff School Community,

We had a joyful graduation ceremony last week for our eight Secondary Level graduates. Wednesday morning, Elisabeth Miles, Matt Robbins and Paula Preschlack drove to each house and delivered the diploma with a rose, a graduation yard sign, a personalized book of child photographs and the class’s yearbook. It was so fun to see our graduates in their driveways! In the Zoom ceremony that evening, each graduate gave a speech for us with their extended family members present. It was a memorable, poignant but joyful, experience!

Amidst the emotions of ending an unusual school year and of the recent national news, we hope you are also finding solace and light in the beauty of these first weeks of our midwestern summer. Nature is a place for healing and inspiration. In the outdoors, we can give our children and ourselves time to process the important conversations happening in the world and in our own homes. This is a time to live deeply in just one day at a time, and to find optimism in taking the long-view when it comes to making decisions. These months will pass and a brighter future is always on the way.

Forest Bluff School expects to be open for students to attend in person in the fall! We want to be in the building with the children as much as possible with constant attention to their safety.

If we have to work remotely again for any reason, we have created a great plan! Please review the appropriate attachments of our Remote Learning Plans at the bottom of this message.

Tuitions for returning families have been reduced, as you will see when you receive them this week, to account for the uncertainty of the times. By enrolling to reserve your children’s places as soon as possible, you are committing to being part of this community and all that it provides. This active, vibrant learning community is what makes Forest Bluff special!  

The Forest Bluff Directors are spending this summer preparing for all possible scenarios and considering the challenges of the 2020-2021 school year. This month, the Directors started to design the structure of our Remote Learning plan for Option A (see previous message), which you may recall is for families who choose to be in person as much as possible, and to switch back and forth to remote learning as needed.

To design our remote learning plan, Directors and school leaders attended webinars, read many reports and articles for educators, consulted with experts, and compared notes with many teachers, both in the Montessori and conventional school communities. The collected information helped us come up with the best plan. Gratefully, we also incorporated the questionnaires most all of our parents shared with us. It was encouraging to see that parent remarks aligned closely with what the Directors observed during the last two months of this past school year. This demonstrates continuity within our school community and shows that our parents know so much already about the Montessori approach; working together creatively to serve the children’s needs makes us an even stronger community than ever!

Upcoming All-School Events

Supporting you in your roles as parents is a big part of what we do at Forest Bluff, and we see direct, positive results in the children themselves. In this coming year, we are putting together some all-school events that will be virtual (or recorded for Forest Bluff parents unable to attend if held in person):

-Montessori From the Start audio lectures and Zoom discussion groups for parents of ages 0-6

-Montessori Approach At Home lectures and Zoom discussion groups for parents of ages 6-14

-Book Discussions on Zoom in small groups

-Continuing Education Evenings as Zoom webinar presentations for all parents to view

These will be led by Paula Lillard Preschlack or another Director, with email invitations from the office to Forest Bluff parents only. They will address relevant topics as we see them arise, such as homeschooling challenges, family discussions about equity and anti-racism, or managing children’s anxieties. We look forward to continuing these conversations and growing together!

The Remote Learning Plan

Below please find the Directors’ Remote Learning plans for each age group:

YCC Remote Learning Plan

Primary Level Remote Learning Plan

Elementary Level Remote Learning Plan

Secondary Level Remote Learning Plan

Adjustments and changes may be made to these later, based on updated information over the summer and observations of children’s responses in the fall on a weekly basis. Giving you this outlined plan now will make you feel confident to commit to Forest Bluff for this upcoming fall. Your children’s intellectual knowledge, motivation to learn and sense of responsibility for their learning, close relationships with their Directors and their social experiences with others, are prioritized in these plans. The Remote Learning plans differ from one another to reflect the characteristics and developmental needs of each age level. They address:

The structure of each work day that reflects the classroom day.

That the children will be held accountable for their learning.

Ways instruction will be delivered.

The fact that physical learning materials may be borrowed or created for use at home.

That individualized work plans and meetings with the Directors will guide student progress.

How Directors will give feedback and encouragement to children’s work.

Director availability for individualized conversations with parents.

   * The Remote Learning Plan for Option B, which is completely online and for the same tuition, is still being created and will differ from what is shown here for Option A for the entire classes of children. Please inquire with Admissions Director Lynn Jessen if you are interested in being on the waitlist for Option B, or have questions about it.

Updates Over the Summer

As you know, we had hoped to resume a brief summer session in late June. However, given the current CDC instructions for school programs, we conclude that it is better for your children to spend time in more relaxed outdoor camp settings or safely with your families during these beautiful summer months. During this time, they can play, explore, socialize, and adjust slowly to the restrictions that may be required of them when we return to school, such as wearing masks and giving a wide berth to others. We want them to be ready to focus on their participation with their Forest Bluff Directors without undue strain; waiting until late summer also gives us adults time to see what changes from CDC and the state–if any–will be part of our school lives in the fall, and to plan to make these smoothest for the children.

Please note: Forest Bluff will start early, on Monday, August 24th,* in a staggered fashion, pending state directive, our county’s phase, and updated CDC guidelines. We will notify you in early August of more details for the beginning days.

Children are incredibly resilient, courageous and joyful, by their very nature. During these tumultuous times, Forest Bluff School is one of the most hopeful places to employ our energy, even as our days and routines have changed immeasurably. We look forward to a positive fall with great connectivity! We continue to be deeply grateful for the support and optimism of your remarkable families, and we look forward to being with you and your children again.

Warmly,

The Forest Bluff Directors

*The same number of weeks of the school year are being offered: A later adjustment will be made in the 2020-2021 calendar to add a week of no school in the late fall or winter to accommodate flu season, a virus outbreak, or another anticipated interruption. We will notify families as far in advance as possible to plan for these presently unknown dates. This is a common trend for schools, high schools and colleges for this unusual year. Thank you for allowing for this necessary flexibility.