April 5, 2020
I am writing to you today as a principal and more importantly, as a parent. On Friday, we learned that Russell Lee Elementary School, along with all other AISD campuses will be closed indefinitely as we work together as a city to slow the spread of COVID 19. While this news was somewhat expected, given the magnitude of the current situation, it was difficult to hear. Like most of you, I frequently find myself on information overload and am having to adjust my intake of the abundance of news and resources we are bombarded with each day. For that reason there are no resources or links within this letter. Instead, it is a message to all of you as a fellow parent or guardian in these challenging times.
I think we can all recognize that our teachers have done a remarkable job of transitioning from jobs that they loved so much, where they were able to interact with our children each and every day. As someone who gets to see all of the work our staff puts in behind the scenes, it has been one of the prouder moments in my time at Lee Elementary. They work tirelessly to come up with new ways to connect with our kids and offer innovative educational opportunities and that work will continue.
The thing that all of us need to understand is we are not going to be able to do what they do, even if we wanted to. The reasons for this are many. Most of us are continuing to work, whether from home or on the front lines providing some measure of relief or assistance during this crisis. We all need to understand is that it is not fair to ourselves to expect that our new version of school look anything like the previous one our kids loved so much. We need to be kind to ourselves with the recognition that we are making the most of an unprecedented situation the likes of which, none of us were fully prepared to navigate.
I speak to all of our staff daily and what we share is that even as educators, we struggle each day to find any semblance of balance within our own households. Learning in this new environment is not going to look anything like it did before, but that’s alright. Some days learning will look like getting out of the house for a much needed walk and on others it will be the use of online resources in a way that we were not comfortable with before. For those of you who need it, consider this a permission slip to take a deep breath, recognize that this is really hard and we are all doing the best we can.
I find it very helpful to regularly remind ourselves that though it may feel like it sometimes, we are never in this alone. These challenges are not specific to us, but are being experienced around the world. Over the past five years I have drawn incredible strength from the strong sense of innovation, kindness and collaboration that exists within our community. It is a community that extends well beyond the walls of our school building and times like these are when we are able to support one another in so many ways. I don’t doubt our ability to weather these times together and that on the other side of this situation our teachers will welcome our kids back and work as hard as necessary to get them to where they need to be.
In the meantime, our entire staff is refining what the next few weeks will look like for our Roadrunners. There are many fun options that we will be sharing over the coming days to keep everyone engaged and learning, but please remember that none of these assignments will be graded. We will continue to highlight elements of our school that we love so much, like morning announcements and each of our daily themes. Ms. Sileo deserves a huge roadrunner round of applause for all of the work she has put into our daily updates, which provide a helpful start to the day. Our team is working on a Lee Elementary Online Learning Site, which will serve as a single destination for all resources and teacher lessons offered by our school. It will also include a FAQ to help keep everyone’s questions answered. As we get up and running with our interactive lessons, I will be participating in some Zoom drop ins to see how everyone is doing and share a schedule for my own Zoom meetings to check in with individuals families. We will also be scheduling an online Principal’s Coffee to stay connected and answer any questions you might have.
Lastly, this week is Librarian Appreciation Week. Jenny Day is our phenomenal librarian every day of the year, but it should come as no surprise that she has been leading the way to assist our students and staff in the last few weeks. Jenny has taken the helm as our tech specialist as our campus tech coordinator has been assisting the district with device distribution. She has been working tirelessly to do whatever is necessary to get books and devices to families and provide some level of comfort to all. Please join us in celebrating Ms. Day and if your family is in need of a device for online learning or anything else, you can reach out to me directly or to your teacher.
Thank you for your collaboration and support.
Principal – Russell Lee Elementary School