I wish I could stop talking or writing about this winter.  I have become obsessed with it!  The combination of cold, snow, delayed starts, and missed days have been on my mind constantly.  I am sure many of you may be experiencing the same thing.  Shoveling snow, difficult driving conditions, cabin fever, dogs who aren’t happy about going out or are missing their exercise, and children who may or may not like all this “weather,” all make for a memorable “Winter of 2014.”

It is my sincere hope that many of you fared well over this past LONG weekend.  I have enjoyed hearing reports of teachers reaching out to their students and students reaching out to their teachers about projects and research being completed online.  I have heard about snow forts built and measured carefully for math assignments, and even “Mini Olympic” villages created in backyards complete with bobsled or luge runs!  It is clear that many people took advantage of the time to continue the learning from school in a new and different mode at home.  In fact, I have even heard a parent share how this became the norm to teach their children about cooking and they found the hours of working together in a warm kitchen, a warm delight.  It will be a memory they will all carry forever.

In fact, articles are popping up everywhere about how the use of technology enables schools to continue and not come to a halt.  Here is a an article about that topic.

Parents have asked about time and days lost.  I addressed our current plans several weeks ago in this weekly blog and in a “push page” home.  We are taking back the March 4 and April 14 delayed starts.  Those mornings will give us some key academic time at all the divisions.  We are also working at capturing time that is usually needed for advisory, homework, etc.  Please be assured that our teachers only want the best for your children and their experience this year.  Teachers worldwide are experiencing this unusual winter, so we are not alone. Here is an article that even comments on how the loss of time has been shown to be a major issue in future learning.

The questions around communication of “what” we are doing and “how” we do it is a bigger question.  Division Directors mention things in their weekly comments and I occasionally mention things as well,  In spite of all of these efforts, the same questions keep coming up.  Would you be surprised to know that our open rate on this weekly newsletter is usually only about 50% and some weeks, for different divisions, it is under 1/3?  And yet, we work to make it full of needed information and we push it to our families as a stand alone e-mail, so parents don’t even have to search for it.

If you are reading this, you are one of the folks who have taken the time to open this week’s letter.  I still need your help, however.  How do we get more people to open the newsletter?  What would entice people to use it for its intended purpose?  I am sure you have friends who don’t open it. Is it on the wrong day?  Is it the wrong format?  Your suggestions and ideas are deeply appreciated and can be sent directly to me at jthomas@flinthill.org.  We want to hear from you so we can improve our communication.  We want to share all the great things happening here and at the same time, relay valuable schedules, calendar items, timely news, and above all, make certain that our “school family” is as informed, prepared, and knowledgeable as possible.  You need to know what is happening and we want our efforts to communicate, to be successful, and effective for you.  Your help would mean a great deal.

Anyway, back to the recent snow storm.  I also hope you and your children had time to rest a bit, play in the snow, read, cook as I mentioned, reflect, and utilize the unexpected “time” off from normal routines.  We can always go into these unexpected, disruptive times of anger and frustration over the inconveniences.  Or we can be pleased by the “gift of time” and what we may now be able to accomplish.  The choice is always in our hands.

Let’s all hope, however, that we have seen the end of this inconvenient winter.  Spring has to be here soon! I swear I heard “spring birds” singing while I shoveled snow last week; I don’t think they were teasing me!  I took it as the “opening bell” to a new season.  Let’s also realize our trees and shrubs have been well watered this winter and should be lush and full this summer.

Have a super week.  Please don’t hesitate to share ideas on the weekly newsletter and how to improve both  its function and “open rate.” And let’s note how important perspective is.  The temperature today is hovering around 50 degrees.  It feels like summer to me!

Best wishes to you!