For the Love of Teachers

Over the past two weeks, we have watched with growing amazement as our children adapt and flourish with this new method of learning online. There are feelings of joy and relief for a community maintained and a continuity of programming, along with feelings of apprehension and frustration for how long this will last and how unnatural technology can be. One moment can hold a multitude of feelings, and it is important that they all be honored and given space. When the dust settles, however, and we get to choose what feelings to move forward with, the overwhelming feeling that remains here at Parker is one of gratitude. This week, we want to provide space for our families to share their feelings of gratitude for the incredible Parker teachers and staff who are shepherding our children through this experience. We received such a staggering response that we decided to break this week’s Snapshot into two parts. Below, you can read Part I; Part II will be sent out Saturday morning. So, without further adieu, here are our Parker families, speaking in their own words…

Dear Priscilla (and Parker),
Maintaining a sense of normality, and restructuring our daily routine hasn’t been easy. Our collective “new normal” is strange, but we all rallied with Parker for support.
Homeschooling is like boot camp. I’m not a qualified teacher, and as it turns out the classroom model doesn’t adapt perfectly to the home. Motivating my daughter Delia, who misses her classmates and beloved teacher Priscilla, has been challenging (and rewarding). I was reminded this week that it’s okay that we’re not qualified teachers because we are their parents first, and during these uncertain times that’s more important. That has helped. I’ve taken cues from Priscilla. That has helped. I’ve followed Delia’s cues. That has helped.

Parker culture is ahead of the curve in so many ways. Even now. I can’t express enough gratitude to Priscilla, and all the wonderful teachers at Parker, for continuing to support us and our kids.
Listening to Priscilla’s morning meetings, as she lovingly greets each of her K/1s, reminds me that we are still a community. It’s one of the best parts of my day. “Priscilla! Priscilla I want to show you something…” Priscilla is calm as many sweet voices vie for her attention during daily morning meetings. She transforms our children into captivated learners each day, as she reads them a chapter book or talks to them about the day. Delia and her fellow K/1s remain excited and motivated to learn and share.
I asked Delia what she loves most about her teacher, and she said: “She’s just great, Mom. I can’t even describe it in words!”
She just did. With love and gratitude,Rebecca (Delia, 1st grade)

I honestly feel prouder than ever to be a Parker parent as we go through this virtual learning chapter together.  Lynn has truly been like a guardian angel to Ethan and his classmates. ALL of the teachers and administrators have been so accessible and communicative. I am so grateful for such a supportive, caring network of beautiful people. Thank you all so much for all of your tireless work and continued, honest communications. I feel luckier than ever to be part of the Parker community right now.  With love, Anna (Ethan, 2nd grade)

Eli is loving his PE assignment from Darcy to build a structure outside! He wouldn’t have gone outside if Darcy hadn’t encouraged the class.  Jeff and Anne  (Eli, 3rd grade)

Nellie, Will and I were just talking about how fortunate we are. It could be very easy for a teacher to take advantage of this situation…staying home, putting minimal thought into lesson plans, and focusing on other non-school related things.  
You, fortunately, do the exact opposite. We notice the extra time and effort you are putting into your lesson plans, especially now that we are homeschooling. These lesson plans are tailored to the kids, they make work fun, and the content is easy to understand because of the way that you teach it. You are obviously putting a lot of thought into this.
We also wanted to say thanks for being so understanding, especially by giving Will and the kids more flexibility during these stressful times. You truly are a role model.  Thank you! Love, John (Will, 4th grade)

Dear Middle School Team,
She scrambles awake after oversleeping her alarm, stresses about being on time for class and getting assignments done, sighs about the homework, and laughs hysterically at the ridiculous things Derek says in class. She rhapsodizes over the US census, pounds the floor running laps in her room, and diligently logs her treks in the woods. She asks annoying questions in Spanish, critiques her leisure reading with a verbal essay, and draws elaborate sketches while sitting on her bed. In short, she does school! Parker has always been the best thing in Maya’s life. Incredibly, impossibly, you’ve kept that magic going for all of us, a feat for which our family is deeply grateful. Parker teachers are the absolute best, and we love you! Shira and Alex (Maya, 6th grade)

There are so many firsts in parenthood: first smile, first word, first step… but we didn’t feel any of them quite as acutely as the “first day of school”. Not only was it the first time we were entrusting our child’s care to someone other than a family member, but it was also a collaborative “first”. You were the first person we entrusted to join us in shepherding Ronan through the journey of discovery that is early childhood. 
However apprehensive we may have been that day, Ronan’s instant and lasting passion for school immediately reassured us that we had chosen well, and so we wanted to take a moment to personally thank you for all your incredible work this year. 
From putting us at ease in our first parent-teacher conference as you told us about the side of our son that you were getting to know, or making us feel like a part of every week of Ronan’s Pre-K3 journey through your incredible photographic storytelling, to demonstrating your continued commitment to being there for Ronan and all the rest of the children during this unprecedented time, your patience, encouragement and skill as an educator shine through in everything Ronan has learned from you, and for that we are so very grateful.
Sincerely,Eileen and Mike (Ronan, PreK 3)

Parker teachers you are our heroes. Your efforts to keep our children connected and joyful in their education in the midst of this challenging time is extraordinary. My heart is filled with gratitude. Thank you for being champions for our children!Love,Taína and Gaetano (Caona, 2nd grade)
 *****Thank you teachers for making this as easy as possible. Love,Caona (2nd grade)

I was one of the parents that had a total meltdown on day one — emailing the teacher during class because my technology wasn’t working.  I was dreading the reality of this new normal — mainly struggling with how to be present for work while also being present for my daughter.  
Like most, I react emotionally to change first and rationally second. But seeing Leigh, Sarah and Agi getting to rational so quickly (and getting the class to examine their feelings) made me start to see the silver linings all around us. Having the schedule of Parker has given us grounding and appreciation for this time we do have. Parker has done it all for us—the morning meeting and assignments she gets brings a focus to each day. My stress level has subsided and now we are having group play dates.  
Leigh, Sarah, and Agi, you are amazing at using this technology to keep Pre-K 4 connected. This new normal has been stressful on us all but having our Parker routine is giving us sanity. Thank you for managing it all with light and grace. The beauty of your words, consistency of your teachings and the songs. Thank you for the songs! Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts. Molly and Dan (Lucy, PreK 4)
For the Love of Teachers, Part II
Thanks to the outpouring of gratitude from our families, we are honored to bring you a second edition of our Friday Snapshot featuring the remainder of our family thank you notes. Here again are our Parker families, speaking in their own words…
Thanks to your endless preparation, perseverance, and loving presence, the 4/5’s continue to collaborate on projects, share in each other’s excitements, admire each other’s pets, and learn ! Just like every other day this year, Vera rises full of enthusiasm and curiosity about the wonders ahead. Your classroom is a home-away-from-school for this group of friends who will tackle any challenge with hope and for whom distance is but a trifle, and you are its heart. Thank you for achieving the unimaginable: making the greatest disruption of our lives feel like just another day at Parker School. You’ve truly inspired a growth mindset in us all!
With gratitude,Shira and Alex (Vera, 4th grade)
I am grateful for Priscilla.  She is the best teacher ever and she really knows who I am.  She has been giving us fun assignments and even sent me a letter in the mail!  Eliza (Kindergarten)
Dear Middle School Teachers,
You’ve impressed us with your ability to successfully carry out this mission to teach online in such a short time. The interaction via the Zoom platform is key to our children’s ability to more easily persevere through this trying time. We are in awe of you all and proud that our child attends Parker School. 
Michael adds, “Thank you. Your efforts mean a lot.” 
Thank you for all you’ve done and continue to do.
With Hugs & Deep Gratitude from The Sirois Family (Michael, 8th grade)
This is a picture of Aldo from one of his breaks during the school day. While he usually takes the time to build with legos or take his bike around the neighborhood, today he was so engrossed in the census project he’s doing in math that he wanted to keep going, researching census data from around the country. I think this is a great example of how Parker teacher’s are finding ways to inspire students, event at a distance.
Nathan (Aldo, 6th grade)
Thank you so much for everything you are doing to keep us connected and learning during this time! Miriam (Alan, 1st grade)
Dear Nellie,
First of all I just want to say thank you for all you’re doing for us. Since both of my parents are professors and doing online learning, I know how stressful it can be.
Since it’s so nice outside, thank you for making alot of nature oriented projects, like the math project with finding the X and Y axis and the other math project with taking a walk and using the stuff you find to make other cool stuff. So just thank you for everything.
Love, Reid (4th grade)
I’ve been completely impressed by my experience these last two weeks sitting close to Helen while we both do our schoolwork online. Helen is active and engaged in her classes, asking questions during her Zoom meetings and using her asynchronous class time to work on projects. The schedule Parker set up also gives us time for breaks, which we’ve used to go for walks, play games, and be active. She misses her friends, but knowing that she can see them online everyday is extremely comforting. I can’t imagine having had to create all this structure, connection and learning myself, as I’ve heard many parents have had to do. I can’t tell you how grateful I am for all the work that the teachers are doing to make all this happen! Kristen (Helen, 8th grade)
Dear Priscilla,
Thank you for meeting with us every day and working behind the scenes designing wonderful learning activities for us! We hope we will be meeting personally soon. 
Cheers,Cuicui (Iris, Kindergarten)
Dear Parker Teachers and Administration,
We have been so impressed by how well Parker has made the transition to virtual learning.  We know that you have all worked incredibly hard to make that happen. We love that Amy has a set schedule and assignments every day and that these have been clear and easy to use.  We also greatly appreciate how well the school has been communicating information to parents and students. We know that Amy continues to feel very connected to her teachers and classmates. Finally, the warm and reassuring tone in the emails have been very comforting at this difficult time. Thank you for all you do.
With much appreciation and wishes for continued good health for all of you,Ana Sobel and George Bizer (Amy, 8th grade)
Dear Teachers,
In a time of uncertainty, stress and confusion for our young children (and adults!) you have remained a constant support and presence in our son’s life. He looks forward to seeing you at morning meeting and often talks about classmates! Thank you for all you have done. Setting up an online system, agenda and tools to help us parent/teach our kids during this time was amazing. Each day is easy to follow, clear and has been great for my son. You all have certainly played an unforgettable part in this chapter of our lives.  THANK YOU <3
Love,James and Karyn White (John, PreK 4)
Thank you to the incredible faculty and staff at Parker! You have made continuing learning at home a seamless transition for Laurel & Evan. We appreciate how you have helped the kids have a sense of routine and stay connected with their class. With great appreciation for all that you do,Joe and Daphne (Evan, 4th grade and Laurel, 6th grade)
I’m sitting here listening to both of my kids interact and having classes with their teachers and I just wanted you to know how grateful I am that they are able to continue their education this way. I love that they are having actual “face to face” classes and are still interacting with their teachers and classmates. This all might be more abbreviated than what is normal at school but it is still happening and they are still learning. I can’t say thank you enough to all of the teachers for stepping up and changing the entire way they teach in order to keep educating their students. 
Everyone talks about how we are going “back to homeschooling” and I have to say that this is not the case. Homeschooling required me to come up with lesson plans, actually teach the material, assess the work that they did during the day….you know all that stuff. The fantastic staff at Parker is making it so that I don’t have to do any of that except make sure that they stick to the school schedule and don’t miss classes. I am so extremely grateful for this!! I loved educating my kids but as you know, we all needed a break and the fact that we don’t have to go back to it during this strange time we are in….I can’t say thank you enough. 
Anyway, I just wanted to say thank you again to you and all of the staff at Parker for continuing to educate my (and everyone else’s) kids……they are all amazing!
Kim (Alden, 5th grade and Braelen, 7th grade)