August 19, 2020

Welcome Middle School Families

Erin Nowak / Middle School Principal

Dear Middle School Families,

Whether you are returning or new to Oakwood, welcome back to school! For Oakwood faculty and staff, it has been a summer filled with reflection, learning, and planning. We can’t wait to reconnect with students during orientation week and as classes begin in September. While our decision to begin the year remotely presents unique challenges, we remain wholeheartedly committed to our educational mission and dedicated to living out our values in new and creative ways.

Last week we shared key features of our remote learning plan for the fall. Our new alternating block semester schedule, the structure provided by a predictable balance of synchronous and asynchronous work, and an emphasis on consistent communication from teachers, are all elements that will support student engagement and academic growth this year. In the design of our program, we have prioritized our belief that positive connections and trusting relationships are vital to young people learning and growing. And since we know that the best learning experiences are ones that are relevant, authentic, and meaningful, it is a guiding principle as teachers create learning experiences for our students.

This year our theme, Embrace the Moment, calls us as educators to be aware of, and responsive to, the current challenges of our time—whether social, political, scientific or philosophical. With this, we endeavor to create opportunities for students to consider real world issues, to grapple with them, and to explore possible solutions that move us toward positive change and a more equitable world. In a different way, Embrace the Moment calls students to make the most of the amazing opportunities that exist within the challenges that this school year inherently presents. These opportunities include developing organizational skills, independence, resilience, and empathy, as well as finding new and different ways of connecting and building community.

For middle school parents, Embrace the Moment can speak to living through this particular period of development in your child’s life. During this time between childhood and adulthood, physical, emotional, social, and intellectual changes happen at breakneck speed. It can be a time of struggle. It can be messy. But with each challenge and each mess, come precious learning experiences and profound growth that will shape who your child will become. And I promise there will be beauty, joy, and triumphs as well. So our theme, Embrace the Moment, is aspirational, as we endeavor to courageously parent our children at this dynamic and inspiring time in their lives. Throughout this year, please remember that we are here to partner with you through all of the new experiences, challenges, and growth.

Educator Roy Parker said, “The best middle schools are places where children belong rather than merely attend, places where they are connected.” This year, despite being at a distance and learning remotely at the start, we are devoted to engaging and connecting students with one another, with their teachers, and with the Oakwood community, to build relationships and a sense of belonging. I am grateful to be a part of this remarkable community and look forward to the work that lies ahead.

Yours in partnership,