Sunday, March 29, 2020

March 29 Update

Dear Parents and Guardians,

I hope this message finds you healthy and well. I would like to thank everyone for reaching out to offer feedback and encouragements about how the McCall staff implemented Distance Learning since school closed. Just like all the students, parents, and families, all McCall staff members are coping with similar challenges the COVID-19 outbreak has inflicted on everyone across this nation. Even though we are facing these unprecedented personal and professional difficulties, I assure all parents and families that the students’ education and well-being are on the forefront of our minds. We will continue to sort through tough questions such as how to balance students’ social emotional well-being with academic rigor, keep information we send out to the families in an organized manner, and motivate students who have trouble engaging in academic tasks even when school is in session. We will figure all of this out, and I ask for everyone’s support and patience while we work through all of this.

I would like to share with you this NPR piece titled “How to Turn Your Home into A School Without Losing Your Sanity”. The information is presented in comic form, so it is very accessible. I am sure many of you, like me, are feeling the pressure of assuming the role of being a home school teachers without much notice and preparation. I think this NPR piece does a very good job of putting it all in perspective.

I would like to end this message by sharing something personal about myself. I lived in Indonesia from the age of 9 to 13. My father was a civil engineer, and he worked as a consultant for the Indonesian government on major highway and bridge projects. When I was in 6th grade, my father was assigned to work on a highway project in a very rural part of Indonesia. We lived in a seaside village where the one school in its vicinity ended in 6th grade. Instead of sending me away to attend boarding school so I could continue my education, my parents decided to pull me out of school for close to a full calendar year so we could be together.

During that time period, my mother would sit me down a few hours a day and have me do some language and math lessons from textbooks that she asked my relatives to send to us. During the rest of the day, I was outside doing whatever amused me with the local kids. I remember when my dad got out of work, we would go swimming, kite flying, or walking through the woods which my dad called “going on patrol”. On weekends, we would hop on fishing boats with local fisherman and go fishing, swimming, and diving with them. I remember on Monday evenings when the one store in the village got its weekly shipments, my dad and I would walk down and buy bottles of Fanta (orange soda) and whatever is on the shopping list my mom put together.

There is no doubt I fell behind in terms of learning content. When I returned to school half way through 7th grade, I was placed in remedial reading and math classes because there were gaps in my education. I don’t know how I would turn out if my parents decided to put me in a boarding school instead of keeping me with them. Maybe I would be the one who created Amazon instead of Jeff Bezos. But I do know I like where I am right now. My father is currently struggling with dementia, and my ability to have meaningful interactions with him is pretty limited. However, when I think about my relationship with him, I always think about what we did when we lived in that fishing village. To this day, I still think about my dad whenever I see Fanta, the orange soda. Below is a picture of my dad and me during one of our afternoon swimming adventures.

This year our students will not learn the same amount of content as they did in previous years. That is certain. However, they will have a whole lifetime to learn Algebra, Chemistry, Ancient History, and all the good stuff we teach them during a regular school year. But their time to establish meaningful relationships with their loved ones, their peers, and us are pretty limited. Let’s use this unique opportunity of school closure to help them to do that.

Stay healthy and stay strong!

James Lin

McCall Middle School

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