July 26, 2020

Dear Students and Families,

I trust you are enjoying the sun and summer weather.  July is almost here and with that questions about the re-opening of school in September. We thank you for participating in the parent survey and for giving your feedback. Your honesty is greatly appreciated.

The results of the survey show that families felt the most positive parts of remote learning were:

  • that it was easy to access,
  • students had the ability to work at their own pace and schedule, and
  • there was plenty of time to complete assignments.

The most challenging areas included:

  • missing classmates, teachers and staff, school activities and learning,
  • unclear expectations,
  • each class being set up differently, and
  • unclear understanding of grading.

In terms of re-opening for the 2020-21 school year, the primary concerns on most parents’ and students’ minds include students gathering in classrooms/in school, social distancing while wearing face masks/shields all day, and not wanting your child to wear a face mask/shield at all.  The consistency of the online platform experience for students was another concern.

For next year, almost half of the respondents prefer all students present in our schools follow safety protocols.  Almost a third prefer a hybrid model of students being in school and participating with remote learning, and approximately 14% prefer 100% learning remotely.

As our reopening committee plans for next year, the highest priorities will be student and staff safety while in school and devising a rigorous online presence.  We are planning to resume school with students in our buildings but there are a number of conditions by the OSPI and Department of Health in order for that to happen.  All guidance may be found at this website: https://www.k12.wa.us/about-ospi/press-releases/novel-coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-resources.  The re-opening committee will follow these guidelines as Plans A, B and C are developed.

The Granite Falls School District is committed to the individual development of each student and therefore, will be developing some kind of online learning platform for those families and students who do not feel comfortable, are medically sensitive, or are not ready to return to the classroom. Our hope is to serve all students in the Granite Falls School District.  Please stay tuned throughout the summer as plans are formalized.

Be well, be safe,

Dr. M

June 4, 2020

The Tenacity to Change

 “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

                                                                                    Nelson Mandela


On Tuesday, January 28, 1986, I was just about 10 days into my education career as a new teacher.  I was living in Melbourne, Florida having just moved there in August after graduating from college.   I heard a knock at my classroom door and when I answered I saw Barney Andrews, a fellow teacher looking distraught.  He said come outside and look up at the sky, something was wrong.  Melbourne High School at that time had outside hallways, so I followed him out a few feet and saw the two plumes of smoke.  The Space Shuttle Challenger had been launched just minutes before 30 miles north of Melbourne at Cape Canaveral.  Moments later the news reached the entire country that the Challenger had exploded.

For the next two and half years the space shuttle program was grounded while engineers and scientists investigated the Challenger disaster while ensuring the next shuttle to go up had additional safeguards and protocols.  On September 29, 1988, the entire student body of Melbourne High School went out to the football field grandstands and cheered as the Space Shuttle Discovery launched into the sky and marked the “Return to Space.” 

Fast forward to March 3, 1991 – April 29,1992.  I am still at Melbourne High School becoming a better, more effective social studies teacher.   In the news is Rodney King who gets pulled over by California Highway Patrol for speeding on a Los Angeles freeway.  Now off the freeway in San Fernando Valley, LAPD takes charge of the traffic stop.  Awakened by the noise, a resident videotaped the 15 minute beating of King by those officers.  The country is dismayed and disturbed watching the grainy video of this event which led to protests, but also riots, violence and destruction in Los Angeles in 1992 following the police officers’ acquittal. 

Since the late 80s/early 90s the Space Program and racial relations have each celebrated highlights and experienced regression.  We’ve seen Nelson Mandela experience 27 years in prison than be released to lead the end of apartheid, eventually becoming South Africa’s first black head of state.  The United States elected President Obama as the first African-American to serve in the White House.  NASA continued to have success with 33 Space Shuttle missions just in the 2000s, many of them focused on the international collaboration with the International Space Station, the ability to overcome adversity in space, and the incredible exploration of unmanned missions to Mars.  During this era, sadly, we saw evidence of continued racial tensions, injury and death as a result of horrible actions taken by a small number of law enforcement officers, another orbiter explosion and the shut down of the entire space shuttle program.

During the week of May 25, 2020, there could not be a bigger dichotomy!  We no longer have grainy or fuzzy video, but in high definition, we watched with tears and disgust as Mr. George Floyd gasps for his last breath. That same week we witnessed the return of America in the space race as the Space X Dragon capsule carrying two US astronauts launched from Cape Canaveral into space after a nine-year absence.

Space X was a small company with immense vision.  Despite its critics and hurdles, such as lack of commercial demand, disinterest by the military, concerns over civil space safety and financial constraints, Space X persevered.  May we have the same tenacity, fortitude and guts to uncover and address our unconscious bias as we do with our singular focus to travel to and explore space.  It starts with each one of us, daily:  Simple actions such as open dialogue within our families, lending a hand to our neighbor, being careful with our words, showing kindness to all, and deeply reflecting on our own unconscious bias.  We can do better.  We can do this.


Be safe, be well,

Dr. M


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