Roxanna's Weekly Message
February 22, 2021
A Refreshing Shot of Hope
This weekend, I took a much needed long walk in the woods with a few friends. As we rambled through the snow and past the frozen waterfalls I was liberated from the cares of my everyday life for a short while and just marveled at the beauty of nature. I really needed the short break. Like many of you, my husband and I are doing our best to care for our family members who are experiencing a variety of health related issues. While juggling family care is never easy in the age of COVID, even routine medical visits have become more complex to arrange and navigate. So as I walked the trails, I took some time to breathe deeply and appreciate how fortunate I am to be healthy and able to do a winter hike.
As I walked on, I noticed that most of the people we passed on the trails were masked and that everyone was very conscious of social distancing. COVID has even affected how people engage deep in the forest. Fortunately, vaccines will continue to be more readily available. On the drive home, I reflected on my family’s experience with COVID vaccination. I wondered when my husband and I would be able to get the vaccine, when it would be available to our teachers. I thought back to a discussion at the most recent Board of Education meeting about vaccination and the questions that families will have as they navigate their own situations.
I came home refreshed and hopeful that I can share information that may help your family. Here are a few important sites with up to date information about the status of vaccines:
While I know that COVID-19 continues to remain challenging for all of us, I hope that you find simple ways to recharge (a walk in the woods does wonders for me). I hope you have access to the latest information related to vaccine opportunities. I hope that you will continue to follow the safety protocols of masking and social distancing that help to keep community transmission low. I will continue to share information with the community as it becomes available. Stay safe and take some time for yourself.
February 15, 2021
Learning Never Stops for MRH Teachers
Monday, in the snowy winter weather, teachers met in a virtual professional development day. Have you ever wondered what teachers do on days when students are not in school, but educators report to work? MRH maintains an ongoing commitment to develop teaching expertise. We believe that the continuous learning of our teachers is essential for high quality education of students. To this end, we support our staff in developing essential skills for teaching and learning. We encourage teachers to review data and engage in reflective practices. Teachers spend time learning, problem-solving, and creating new content on PD days.
Professional development at MRH is guided by the Professional Development Committee which comprises district teachers and me. We meet monthly to discuss needs, to plan for implementation, to conduct program evaluations and to launch effectiveness surveys. PDC members also meet with the building administrators to help plan for PD day activities at each site.
Each PD session is specifically designed to meet the needs of the students and staff in our buildings. Teachers may engage in training, analyzing student data, peer observations, action research projects, expert coaching, lesson study, construction and analysis of assessments, book studies, review of student work samples and curriculum review. Each and every session is designed to make the MRH student experience the best that it can be. The five PD days are valuable times in the life of the schools. Teachers are able to work together to develop new skills that benefit our students.
MRH is a place of high expectations and creativity. PD days play an important part in MRH innovation. Hopefully, you are someplace warm and cozy. MRH teachers spent the snowy Monday hard at work, planning to improve the MRH experience.
February 8, 2021
Self-care: Beating the Winter Doldrums
It is February. The shortest month of the year can sometimes feel like the longest. The days can be cold and grey. The Super Bowl provided a little diversion for our family. One child lives in Kansas City and the other in Sarasota, FL., so we had a healthy sibling rivalry. Unfortunately for my husband and son, my daughter’s team won. So while she is celebrating in the sun, they are here in the coldest of Missouri days in post-Super Bowl let-down mode.
I can joke about the effects of the big game on my family's mood. However, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), according to the American Psychiatric Association, is a form of seasonal or winter depression with people experiencing mood changes and symptoms similar to depression. The symptoms usually occur during the fall and winter months -- most often January and February -- when there are decreased amounts of sunlight. Normal winter symptoms include but are not limited to:
Sleeping too much
Mild weight gain and increased craving for carbohydrate-based foods
Decrease in normal energy amounts
Difficulty in feeling up to typically enjoyable activities such as exercising
While seasonal mood changes are normal, there are several things that families can do to help boost spirits. This is especially important during our year of COVID-19 social distancing. Strategies include:
Taking a walk to get a few minutes of natural sunlight
Reading together near a window/natural light source
Planning for future activities in the spring and summer
Limiting junk food and eating more vegetables
Having family game time or other quality time activities together
Establishing regular sleep routines
Hang in there! Longer days, sunshine and spring are on the way. And to any other disappointed Chiefs fans… there is always next year. In the meantime, I hope you stay warm and cozy.
February 1, 2021
Public Education: A Shared Commitment
"Individual commitment to a group effort. That is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work." --Vince Lombardi
While I usually don’t find myself making sports references, I think the former Packers football coach is correct. The number of individual commitments to the group effort of providing a quality education in our local context is staggering. I am humbled and blessed to work alongside people who go above and beyond because they believe in the promise of public education. The last year has presented some unique challenges, but the shared commitment remains strong. Here are just a few examples of individual commitment to educational equity and excellence which I witnessed this week:
School board members meeting regularly and serving on various work groups to ensure that resources are available and policy is focused on equitable outcomes for students.
Individuals attending countless construction meetings because of community members who organized and supported a bond issue to improve our school facilities.
Parent leaders working with school principals to provide opportunities for meaningful, virtual home/school connections.
Staff members manning porch pick-up points or arranging porch drop-offs of supplies to ensure all students have access to learning materials.
Staff members working through the weekend to assist the health department with contact tracing efforts on behalf of MRH families.
Community members making weekly food supply drop-offs and deliveries for Weekend on Wheels.
Members of the Joe’s Place Board meeting to ensure program strength.
Community member outreach to ensure support for our garden programs.
University partner meetings to offer a variety of opportunities for staff and students.
A continuous outpouring of support… an army of people, really… making a difference in the lives of children in our community. Public education is a shared commitment to children. A group effort to provide leaders, scholars, citizens and stewards of tomorrow. A common question, each time a new Herculean task presents itself, is “How can I help?” For that, I am beyond grateful. So from one individual committed to educational equity and excellence at MRH, to another, thank you. We couldn’t do it without you.