Heads of Small Schools Conversations: Notes from April 29, 2020

By: Amy Wasser
KC Topics: 
Coronavirus, Professional Leadership

Notes from Small School leaders discussions April 29, 2020
Prizmah Staff: Amy Wasser, Rachel Dratch and Traci Stafford

Yom Ha’atzmaut cute ideas they did this morning:

  • Virtual tours of Israel with hands on activities 
  • Cooking, tour of garden, how to salute properly and more with school people who now live in Israel

Welcome Aviva Walls- who will take the headship at Gesher Jewish Day School, Fairfax VA. in July.

Traci: What are your needs/ areas of concern in fundraising?

  • How to raise a substantial amount of money remotely? Especially without a big network of donors
  • Would love guidance on this please
  • Since many put fundraising on hold because they got the loan, how do they approach the fall campaign when no one knows what the fall will look like? How to plan the usual in an unusual time?
  • PPP loan- if you got it, do you tell people, and if you do, will they not donate because they think you don't need it?
  • Some schools do not routinely share their budgetary stress so why now
  • Since we had to cancel the big gala, now people are not donating till next year
  • BIG NEED: help keep the national discussion to include needs of small schools and communities who are afraid they are not sustainable!!!!!
  • Template language is super helpful. Share language for fundraising in today’s environment. Traci shared link in chat
  • Grandparent campaign- they can donate in honor of their children who are working so hard to help the kids at home and the parents get the note of recognition
  • Tution bank- collect $5000 from 20 people so if people lost jobs and can't cover tuition they have this and do not need to worry. If they have extra it will go to the endowment fund.
  • For marketing and recruitment: they had such amazing feedback form folks outside their school that they are jealous… that the school is offering free 30 minute zoom classes for preschool and lower school students in the community as enrichment (some are asynchronous and some are live) as a gift to the community and hoping that people may consider joining the school now.

If Prizmah could hire a consultant for you, what areas are priority?

  • Reopening plans
  • What ifs for the fall, what are good options and best practices for people?
  • Small school lense
  • How do we follow social distancing rules in school???
  • How to plan for in and out?

Suggestions:

  • Work with synagogues and JCCs about sharing space and tents and resources
  • Plan for outdoor classes, possible focus on environmental issues and partner with a community farm or outdoor education center

NOTE: all our schools on the call (18 I think) are staying closed till August/ Sept.

Transcripts for 4th, 7th and 11th graders?

Not a big topic…. Looks like older kids got grades.

Real anecdotes, like a PTC

Remote admissions:

  • Schedule zoom meetings with director of support services for evaluations
  • Access all records
  • Invite older kids to join a zoom class
  • Younger kids interviewed by teachers on zoom
  • K teacher loves using ESGI method

Virtual Open house and tours:

  • Yes, all are planning
  • Share recordings of awesome zoom classes
  • Share live and animated and exciting teachers talking about what they are doing
  • Facebook live event

Staff Morale: teacher appreciation week

  • 8 lawn signs
  • Deliver challah and cake by board members
  • Personal calls
  • PTO donated to charity in Israel in their names
  • Send home spa?
  • Mindset: think of ALL teachers as first year teachers
  • Parents made thank you video for teachers

What about the few kids who can't handle the zoom classes live?

  • Release parents- don't force them
  • Record the classes and share later
  • Truncate lessons so shorter, with 5 minute personal check ins
  • Pair up with a buddy or tutor
  • HW zoom place to hang with an adult monitor
  • Principal checks in personally with kids having a tough time

How to tell teachers who are not returning that they will not get a contract?

  • It is so hard
  • Blame enrollment decline?
  • How can I rehire an awesome teacher who can not seem to handle this new reality? Maybe create a contingency plan.
  • Quotes about GRIT help…
  • Insert language into contracts/ agreements like AT WILL and contingency learning
  • Preschool contracts may be very different this year
  • List that placement, methods and more change

“As directed by HOS”