Welcome (Back) To School!

With both of our first days of school now behind us, we have officially made it across the starting line! We look forward to having all of our students, in-person and off campus, join us (in one form or another) tomorrow.

Our students on campus are acclimating to two significant changes. First, with masks, social distancing, and various other protocols, school is quite different from how they remember it. I have been so impressed with how they have handled our new normal. The second change is best described by an observation that Tyler Fox (4th grade) shared with me yesterday. In his words, “It’s weird to see so many people.” Having spent so much time in our homes over the past five months, it’s great, and perhaps a bit overwhelming, to be back at school.

In fact, the past 36 hours have caused me to reflect on what I often refer to as our sixth (unofficial) core value. There is so much JOY to be found at TDS each day. Masks might hide smiles, but this sense of joy, as we have returned after far too long to see friends, students, and colleagues, is palpable.

That said, our new normal is not ideal. Fifth graders are temporarily out of a job as morning greeters, and forehead scans have replaced handshakes, elbow bumps, or hugs. Having worked so hard to prepare our classrooms, hallways, and common spaces, we’d love to walk you through every inch of campus. We want you as mystery readers, field trip drivers, library volunteers, lunch helpers, and more. Having parents feel connected to their children’s experience is an important part of the ethos at TDS, and this is certainly more challenging right now. We appreciate your patience, and we remember that all of this is temporary.

Speaking of connections, we invite all family members to join our opening assembly tomorrow (Friday) at 2:15 PM via live stream. We’ll introduce our new students and teachers, and I’ll offer a few thoughts about the year ahead.

On a final note, I want to thank everyone who had a hand in achieving lift-off this year. This was a summer like no other. Our teachers spent hours learning, creating, and preparing for every aspect of this new normal. Natalie Ditmore and Emily McAllister generated schedules, created protocols, worked with teachers, and so much more. Sharon Myers managed countless facilities projects, while Rodney Hughes moved virtually every piece of furniture on campus. Emma Farrer handled our migration to Magnus Health, Melissa Cabrera brought scores of new tech devices on line, and Mary Stillman (when she wasn’t opening deliveries three times a day) updated TeacherEase as well as our phone system. Amie Tedeschi and Maria Morrison were valuable members of our Reopening Task Force, and Dr. Barbara Alexander, as our chief medical consultant, took my calls morning, noon and night. Finally, Kiera Olson led a team of our teachers in delivering an outstanding Summer Program, which both gave us confidence and highlighted areas in need of our attention. I’m quite fond of the expression, “Standing on the shoulders of giants,” and that seems appropriate here, as we stand at the starting line and look ahead to what I expect will be a wonderful year of learning and growth for our students.

Doug Norry
Head of School