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StM News

COVID-19 School Information & Messages

Messages from the Head of School

List of 10 items.

  • CURRENT, April 2, 12 p.m.

    Dear StM Community,
     
    The uncertainty we are facing right now is incredibly difficult. 
     
    Tackling simple tasks and living our day-to-day lives is requiring significant amounts of courage, strength, and faith. We hope that you and your family are able to rely on your support system and your extended StM family to help you through this time.
     
    We are saddened to announce that our return to campus will be postponed at least until May 1, based on the new guidance from federal and state authorities. The Spring Break holiday will remain as scheduled, April 10 - 16. Our Episcopal tradition reminds us that Easter is a time for spiritual rebirth and renewal. We hope that you’ll be able to take this time as a family to unwind and refresh your mind, body, and spirit.  
     
    Please know that the health, safety, and wellbeing of our school community is our top priority. We hope you continue to let us know when you need any social or emotional support, technology assistance, one-on-one tutoring, or pastoral care. 
     
    St. Martin’s Continuity of Learning Plan (distance/online learning) remains robust. Our guiding philosophy with this plan is to maintain realistic expectations of our students while prioritizing their mental wellbeing. Please continue to reach out to the faculty and your division head if you have any concerns or need support.
     
    We will closely monitor official local, state, and federal government communications; consult with health officials; and update you as necessary. As soon as it is safe to reopen our campus, we will. 
     
    We can’t thank you enough for your ongoing, extraordinary support and understanding. 
     
    Together we are Saints.
     
    Sincerely,
     
    Ana Mesa Ortega ’85
    Chair, Board of Trustees
     
    Ford Dieth, Jr. ’89
    Assistant Head of School
    Read More
  • March 29, 9 p.m.

    Dear St. Martin’s Community,
     
    Greetings from the Van Slate House. I find myself writing this and wishing I had the wisdom of Solomon, the courage Daniel showed in the lion's den, and the superhuman strength of Samson. They faced their foes with unwavering bravery.
     
    What I do have, and find myself leaning hard into, is the childlike faith and trust that David demonstrated when he faced Goliath. Right now, we are confronted with an adversary that is threatening us all and turning our lives inside out. Together, as the St. Martin’s community, we can all kneel down as David did, gather our thoughts and prayers, and find our sense of faith and trust to go forward. We can all draw on the knowledge that we are Saints, together. We are a community of love and caring that reaches deep, from our first alumni class to today’s Cottage families. What I love about being an Episcopal School is that we know the importance of prayer. We have teachers, students, parents, alumni, friends of the school, and so many others who know how to unite and support each other. Together, we will continue to nourish each other.
     
    I am so proud of our students! From our littlest Cottage children, listening to their teachers' voices as they read stories online, all the way to our Upper School students who are finding themselves suddenly having classes at home. We know they are missing their classmates and routines, yet our students are rising to the occasion and adjusting to a very different way of living and learning.
     
    Parents, I wish you could lift the curtain and peek behind the scenes at the work our teachers and support services team are doing. They are turning themselves inside out as they make the transformation to online education while trying to juggle their own new home situations and personal challenges as well. Thank you for your patience and support as we work through this unprecedented time.
     
    We know the challenges you face as you try to navigate your work lives, your children's school work, managing your households, and caring for loved ones. Your supportive messages and good wishes mean so much to us. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we move forward and get through this together. And please continue to let us know how we can help you individually.
     
    Seniors, and senior parents, you are especially on our minds. A whole team of folks here at school is working to create a special end-of-year celebration of your careers at St. Martin’s. You are an amazing class, and you will be fêted and honored in true St. Martin’s style.
     
    I want to end this note to you all with my gratitude. I have never been so proud to be a part of a community as I am of St. Martin’s. We are a home and a family for generations past and generations to come. We will see our way through this troubled time with lessons learned, hardships met and overcome, and a deeper and more anchored sense of love. Thank you for all you are doing to support our community. 
     
    Together we are Saints!

    Merry Sorrells
    Head of School
    Read More
  • To Alumni and Friends, March 22

    Dear Alumni and Friends,
     
    I write this message to let you know we are thinking of you. These are unsettling times are for everyone and it’s important that you know you have the love and unwavering support of the St. Martin’s family. I pray especially for those who are on the frontlines of this historic crisis, and for those who have been directly impacted by this horrible virus. 
     
    Although campus is closed, I can assure you that St. Martin’s is still very much in session. Our faculty and administration have worked tirelessly these last few weeks on our Continuity of Learning Plan. And just a few days into the plan, our students, parents, faculty, and staff have all risen to the occasion, showing a level of planning, creativity, and hard work that we all can be proud of. Our approach to this situation is that faith, common sense, and forward thinking will guide our steps rather than the paralysis of fear.  
     
    Sadly, it has become clear that we must cancel the Spirits Party. During this unprecedented and uncertain time, we feel it is critical to adhere to the guidelines provided by our local, state, and national leadership and do everything we can to keep our community healthy and safe.
     
    My commitment to you and to our students, faculty, staff, and families is that we will do everything we can to continue our mission to educate and support our students through Faith, Scholarship, and Service. Please be aware that all community-wide messages and updates regarding St. Martin’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak can be found at www.stmsaints.com
     
    As many of you know, the campus is my home, and it does not feel the same with our students and families gone. I cannot wait to have everyone return home to St. Martin’s. Until then, we are holding all of our alums, students, families, faculty and staff, and friends in our hearts. Stay well, and please know that we care about you. 
     
    Together we are Saints.
     
    Merry Sorrells
    Head of School
    Read More
  • March 19, 1:00 p.m.

    Dear Parents, 
     
    In a press conference yesterday, Gov. John Bel Edwards said the state is “ramping up” its testing capacity with drive-thru screening locations and expects that will cause the number of known cases to increase substantially as more results are processed. Local health experts are stressing to residents to treat themselves as if they are COVID-19 positive but asymptomatic, mainly by practicing social distancing. Officials are certain that the New Orleans metro area has been experiencing community spread of the virus for weeks. 
     
    Based on these new recommendations and information, St. Martin’s will no longer be notifying families of specific cases of presumed or confirmed COVID-19 cases. St. Martin’s will continue to monitor our community’s health and notify you of any patterns of concern. Please feel free to reach out to our Student Support Services, your Division Head, or StM administrators if you have any questions. We know this is a time of heightened anxiety and we don’t want to add to that anxiety unnecessarily. 
     
    We continue to encourage families follow the current New Orleans Department of Health guidelines:
    • If you have symptoms including a fever, cough, or shortness of breath, call your primary care provider. Do not go to the doctor without calling first.
    • If you do not have a primary care provider, call the Louisiana Department of Health hotline at 1-855-523-2652.
    • If you are severely ill and you think you need hospitalization, call 9-1-1 or go to an emergency room.
     
    If you are feeling overwhelmed with stress, fear and anxiety about the uncertainty surrounding this public health emergency, there is a special statewide Keeping Calm through COVID Hotline you can call. This connects you to trained, compassionate counselors who can offer support and who can direct you to counseling services. Call 1-866-310-7977 anytime, 24/7 to reach a confidential, trained counselor. 
     
    If you have any specific questions or concerns, or would simply like to talk, we are also available. Please feel free to reach out to our Student Support Services, your Division Head, or StM administrators if you need support. 
     
    Together We Are Saints!
    Sincerely,
     
    Merry Sorrells
    Head of School
    Read More
  • March 18, 9:00 p.m.

    Dear Parents,
     
    This evening through social media we learned that one of our seventh grade parents received a diagnosis of presumed COVID-19, but has not yet been tested. The diagnosis was reached via an urgent care clinic based on negative test results for flu, as well as the parent's symptoms. This information was verified before we sent this communication.
     
    We continue to ask that all of our families follow the current guidelines as laid out by the New Orleans Department of Health:
    • If you have symptoms including a fever, cough, or shortness of breath, call your primary care provider. Do not go to the doctor without calling first.
    • If you do not have a primary care provider, call the Louisiana Department of Health hotline at 1-855-523-2652.
    • If you are severely ill and you think you need hospitalization, call 9-1-1 or go to an emergency room.
     
    Our thoughts and prayers are with this family at this time.
     
    Together we are Saints.
     
    Sincerely,
     
    Merry Sorrells
    Head of School
    Read More
  • March 16, 12:00 p.m.

    Dear StM Community,
     
    During this time, strong communication is imperative. We want to make certain you are receiving all email correspondence from St. Martin’s, as we will continue to use this means to communicate regularly with our community. 
     
    Some email services may block email to protect you from phishing, scams, and junk email. However, that may cause you to not receive StM emails. If you did not receive emails from St. Martin’s on Friday and Saturday, please take the following steps:
    1. Add stmartins@stmsaints.com to your email contacts and/or safe senders list.
    2. Check your Junk Mail folder for emails from StM and mark those messages as “Not Spam.”
    3. Create a filter to whitelist all emails from the domain “stmsaints.com.”
     
    For specific directions on how to complete the steps above, please visit this website. And if your contact information has recently changed, email Mary Brown at mary.brown@stmsaints.com to update the database. 
     
    StM is also posting all community-wide communications to the homepage of our website: www.stmsaints.com.
     
    Together We Are Saints.
     
    Sincerely,
     
    Merry Sorrells
    Head of School
    Read More
  • March 14, 8:00 p.m.

    Dear Parents, 
     
    Late this afternoon, one of our fourth grade parents was diagnosed with COVID-19. Our thoughts and prayers are with this family at this time.
     
    Please continue to follow the CDC guidelines for potential exposure to this virus. If you have any questions regarding your health or need for further evaluation, please contact your physician.
     
    Together we are Saints.
     
    Sincerely,
     
    Merry Sorrells
    Head of School
    Read More
  • March 13, 2:00 p.m.

    Dear Parents, 

    Since my last update on Wednesday, there have been several new developments regarding COVID-19 and its impact on our community. Today, Governor John Bel Edwards signed a proclamation, that among other actions, halts any gathering of more than 250 people and closes all K-12 public schools statewide. 

    Our campus will be closed beginning Monday, March 16. Our overriding concern in this unsettling time is to carry out our mission to educate the students entrusted to us. We are well-prepared to continue educating students.

    Our faculty and staff will finalize preparations to launch the plan on Monday and Tuesday. On Wednesday, March 18, online learning will begin for grades Pre-k through 12. George Cottage faculty will provide educational resources for our parents and families. 

    You will soon receive communication regarding the specific details of how each individual division will transition to this plan. In addition, your child’s teachers and division head will be in touch regularly with important updates.

    Please note the following:
    • We are asking students in grades 1-12 to take all school books home as we transition to our Continuity of Learning Plan.
    • Our regularly-scheduled Spring Break (April 10-17) will continue as planned. At this time, we anticipate returning to normal campus operations on Monday, April 20. We will remain in regular communication with you about the school’s operations. 
    • All auxiliary and extracurricular activities are suspended until we return to normal campus operations.
    • Our website homepage featuresa running log of our COVID-19 communications (www.stmsaints.com). Please refer to this page often if you are concerned that you may not be receiving communication. If you need to update your contact information, please email Mary Brown at mary.brown@stmsaints.com.  
    • We anticipate the next few weeks will be challenging for all of us. But we have been through a number of challenging circumstances as a community, and have relied on each other for support and care. We continue to remain filled with gratitude for our strong community. 
    In these quickly-changing times, we are asking families to please do the following:
    • Thoroughly read all emails that you receive from St. Martin’s faculty and administrators. They will give you the latest information. 
    • Confirm your access to all of our current digital learning platforms by checking passwords, etc. If you have any difficulties accessing the platforms, please contact your child’s teacher and technology@stmsaints.com
    • Reach out to us if you have questions about your child’s learning. Our faculty/staff contact information is available in our online directory when you login. It is also available on this webpage
    Our approach to this situation continues to rely on the strength of our incredible community. We can’t thank you enough for your ongoing, extraordinary support and understanding. 

    Truly, together we are Saints.

    Sincerely,

    Merry Sorrells
    Head of School
     
    Read More
  • March 11, 3:30 p.m.

    There are few circumstances that do more to showcase the strengths of a community than those that require pulling together to navigate through uncertain times. Working with  St. Martin’s administration, faculty, and staff over the last few weeks to determine our next steps in responding to the threat of the coronavirus which causes COVID-19 has been both reassuring and encouraging. 

    We have no reason to believe COVID-19 is currently in our population at school. However, since the number of confirmed cases in New Orleans continues to grow, we feel it is critical to urge our families and employees to help us take steps to protect our community...
    03.11.2020, 3:30 p.m.

    Dear St. Martin’s Community,

    There are few circumstances that do more to showcase the strengths of a community than those that require pulling together to navigate through uncertain times. Working with  St. Martin’s administration, faculty, and staff over the last few weeks to determine our next steps in responding to the threat of the coronavirus which causes COVID-19 has been both reassuring and encouraging. 

    We have no reason to believe COVID-19 is currently in our population at school. However, since the number of confirmed cases in New Orleans continues to grow, we feel it is critical to urge our families and employees to help us take steps to protect our community. 

    We are actively working to minimize possible exposure to our students, faculty, and staff. We are now:
    • Limiting the number of visitors coming to campus by cancelling some events and postponing others.
    • Asking that if you have contact with someone who has been near a person diagnosed with coronavirus, or if you have any reason to self-isolate, please report that information to Nurse Smilari at 504.736.9944. (See CDC guidance on the prevention of the spread of COVID-19.)
    • Reviewing our campus events, field trips, and class trips on a case-by-case basis and communicating any possible postponements individually.
    • Preparing a Continuity of Learning Plan, which will allow us to continue educating our students should the school need to close campus for an extended period of time. Our Continuity of Learning Plan will allow for the continuation of essential curriculum and skill-building at grade levels Pre-k through 12. In addition, our George Cottage faculty will be working to provide resources for our parents and families. 

    If you have traveled or plan on travelling to countries or states with elevated levels of COVID-19, please consult the CDC website for the most up-to-date information. Please report any personal international travel to our nurse to assure that CDC protocols are followed.

    As always, our primary priority is the safety and well-being of our community. We are available to discuss any concerns you or your child has regarding the COVID-19 or flu. This article may be helpful in explaining the virus to children. You may also feel free to encourage your child to reach out to our counselors or medical professionals for reassurance.

    If you have a question regarding whether your child should stay home, feel free to contact Nurse Smilari at 504.736.9944 or eileen.smilari@stmsaints.com. 

    Thank you for your continued support and cooperation. Updates will continue to be sent as they become available. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns.

    Our approach to this situation is that faith, common sense, and forward thinking guide our steps rather than the paralysis of fear. Our community is a strong one. We are pulling together to provide a safe, healthy, and stable environment for all. 

    Sincerely,

    Merry Sorrells
    Head of School

    Eileen Smilari
    School Nurse, Chair of Student Support Services Department


    Read More
  • March 3, 6:30 p.m.

    In light of the recent spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the United States...
    In light of the recent spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the United States, St. Martin's is closely monitoring the health of our students, faculty, and families. We are following the guidelines of the CDC and local health organizations. We have been in close communication with other local independent schools, as well as the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), which has resources for schools to prepare in the event the COVID-19 develops locally.
     
    St. Martin’s is an advocate of prevention and preparation. Currently, we have taken the following steps:
    • Our school nurse has spoken to all Middle and Upper School students to review good hygiene (handwashing, coughing and sneezing in elbow) and to emphasize the importance of staying home if you are ill, as well as alleviating anxiety in this age group. 
     
    • Lower School students have been instructed regarding hygiene during cold and flu season to avoid unnecessary alarm. 
     
    • Our school nurse is continuing to work with the George Cottage faculty to identify signs and symptoms of illness. 
     
    • We continue to have our school cleaned and sanitized, paying close attention to the areas where germs are easily spread.
     
    Your assistance is needed in a number of ways. Please continue to follow our existing illness policy:
    • All students, faculty, and staff are instructed to stay home when sick.
     
    • Students exhibiting flu-like symptoms are immediately dismissed to a parent for further evaluation by their physicians. 
     
    • All students, faculty, and staff with fever over 100 are required to stay home until they are fever-free without medication for 24 hours. 
     
    • Those who exhibit coughing or shortness of breath may be sent home for further evaluation by their physicians. 
     
    • Anyone who is absent due to illness for more than three days must bring a doctor’s note to return to campus.
     
    • All students, faculty, and staff and requested to continue to practice good hygiene, observe flu/illness precautions, and maintain healthy nutrition and sleep schedules.
     
    We are still in the cold and flu season; therefore swift diagnosis and treatment are necessary to contain any of the viruses that may be circulating in our community at this time. If you have a question regarding whether your child should stay home, feel free to contact our nurse, Eileen Smilari, at 504.736.9944. 
     
    If you have traveled or plan on travelling to the countries with an elevated alert level, please consult the CDC website for the most up-to-date information. Please report any personal international travel to our nurse to assure that CDC protocols are followed.
     
    Field trips and scheduled school events will continue as planned, with close monitoring. Any adjustments will be made on a case by case basis. Domestic trips will be closely monitored as well, and parents will be alerted as needed for any changes in itinerary. If your child is planning to participate in the StM-associated trips abroad, you will be contacted regarding plans for these trips; you will receive separate emails with details specific to them. 
     
    In the unlikely event that St. Martin’s needs to close for an extended period of time, we are working with the division heads and faculty to ensure our students continue to receive the quality education they deserve. We are preparing our teachers for distance learning in the third through twelfth grades. For our students in second grade and below, we are developing resources to support parents in extending their children’s learning at home.
     
    We are available to discuss any concerns you or your child has regarding the COVID-19 or flu. Due to the heavy media coverage, anxiety regarding illness may be heightened. This article may be helpful in explaining the virus to children. Feel free to encourage your child to reach out to our counselors or medical professionals for reassurance.
     
    Thank you for your continued support and cooperation. Updates will be sent as they become available. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns.
     
    Sincerely,
     
    Merry Sorrells
    Head of School

    Eileen Smilari
    School Nurse, Chair of Student Support Services Department
    Read More

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Video Messages

Student Support Services Resources

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  • Week 3 Middle School Affirmations & Yoga

    I hope you had a great, long weekend!  Click here for another YouTube video I made for you guys.  Also, here are the Affirmations that can go along well with the 5 minute mindful yoga.  
     
    I've enjoyed video chatting with some of you!  Please let me know if you'd like to chat individually or in a small group, and we'll easily set that up.  Take care of yourself and each other.  Here's to a great Week 3 : ) 
     
    Blessings, 
     
    Mrs. Heath 
    Read More

Technology Resources

Continuity of Learning Plans and Resources

Upper School CLP

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  • March 27, Week 2 Update


    Dear Upper School Parents,

    We hope that you and your families are staying safe and healthy during this time.  As we complete our first full week of distance learning, we understand that this transition has been challenging for many of you and your children.  We sincerely appreciate your patience as we have temporarily transformed our school into an online learning community.  We also want to say that we have been so impressed at how well and how quickly so many of the students have adapted to distance learning, as well as the tremendous job that our teachers have done moving their classrooms online.  

    Here are a few updates:
    • Third quarter report cards are now available on Whipple Hill.  To see your child’s report card, log in to Whipple Hill; you should be able to access it under the “Performance” tab.  You should also be able to print it out if you wish. If you have any difficulties, please let us know. 
    • We have decided to eliminate exams for the second semester.  We are making plans on the best ways to utilize that time when we return to school.  When final decisions have been made, we will communicate those plans with you and your students right away. 
    • Students who are enrolled in AP classes have probably heard from Debbie Flanagan, our Director of College Counseling, and their teachers that the College Board announced last week that all AP Exams will be conducted as 45-minute online tests, which they may take at home on one of two dates.  The College Board plans to announce those dates in early April.  In addition, AP exams will only test material that would normally be covered through the third quarter of the school year.  Furthermore, there will no longer be a fee for cancellations. You will hear more from us as this situation develops.
    • As we continue to function as an online learning community, we recognize the need to dedicate ourselves to professional development opportunities specific to online learning while also giving students time to unplug and unwind.  To that end, we are setting aside this coming Monday (March 30) and Thursday, April 9 as professional development days for our teachers.  Students will not have any classes or new assignments for those days. In turn, teachers will not be having regularly scheduled office hours.    

    We know that this is a difficult time for many of you, and we appreciate the trust and confidence you put in us to educate your children.  Please check the school website next week as our Student Services Team will be uploading numerous tips to help support your children.  We pray that you and your family continue to weather this time. As always, feel free to reach out if we can help you in any way.
    Read More
  • March 20, Week 1 Update

    Dear Upper School Parents,

    We hope that this letter finds you and your family safe and healthy. 

    These first few days of distance learning have been a time of transition and experimentation.  Our teachers have done a tremendous job of moving their classrooms into an online environment, and the students have responded incredibly well to this change.  We are very proud of how well they have done!

    As we move into the first full week of distance learning, our faculty will be utilizing more innovative methods as a way to teach and engage students during this time of off-campus learning. 

    Included in this letter is a link to a list of online etiquette and protocols that advisers discussed with students last week.  We wanted to pass it along to you so that you were aware of the expectations we have for interacting with students in an online learning environment. 
     
    In addition, we know that maintaining a daily routine provides a sense of normalcy for your children during this time.  We encourage you to sit down this weekend and help your child create a schedule that works best for him/her. If you need additional guidance, you can always reach out to your child’s adviser, Aileen Minihan, or one of us.  Most importantly though, we ask for patience for your child and the faculty. Adjusting to this new way of teaching and learning will take a little time for all those involved.

    As always, we thank you for the privilege of teaching your children, and we sincerely appreciate your patience as we have made this transition.  We will continue to communicate with you frequently, but please feel free to reach out to us should you have any questions or concerns.

    Stay safe and take care of yourself and your family.

    Together We Are Saints!

    Peter Adair
    Head of Upper School

    Mary Bond
    Associate Head--Student Affairs

    Tiffany DuSaules
    Associate Head--Academic Affairs

    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1rHrceYfbFAhcZa_S_RqBFquOwVGsKImaBFSKhPhC1ZQ/edit?usp=sharing


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  • March 16

    Dear Upper School Parents,

    We hope that you and your families are safe and doing well.  We wanted to reach out to you today to make sure you understand our plan for continuous learning.  Our faculty have been hard at work in preparation to move fully to distance learning starting this Wednesday, March 18. (Many assignments have already been posted for students.)  Below is a summary of our Continuity of Learning Plan which details the expectations for our students, teachers, and parents during this period of online learning. 

    Adviser and Teacher Expectations:
    Advisers will be communicating with their advisees twice a week via email or Google Classroom to check on their progress in all of their courses, as well as their physical and emotional well being. 

    Teachers will establish and communicate weekly office hours when students can contact them with questions or concerns about assignments.  Teachers will post office hours through email, Whipple Hill, or their already-established online learning program. Teachers will also post the specific method(s) that students can reach them during their office hours, including e-mail, Google meet, Google doc comments, etc.  Students will have at least 24 hours to complete and submit an assignment from the time it was assigned.  This will ensure that we are as flexible as possible in accounting for things that might be outside a student’s control.

    Online learning assignments will align with the course’s already-established expectations, standards, and objectives, though content itself may shift in the best interest of the students.  We aim to provide meaningful learning experiences for the students as they work remotely.  

    Student and Parent Expectations:
    To ensure academic success, students will consistently check their school email, Whipple Hill, Google Classroom, and any other online learning program established by their teachers for class assignments and announcements.  

    Students should check their email and class platforms at least 5 times a day.  (First thing in the morning, mid-morning, mid-afternoon, late-afternoon, evening, etc.)  They will complete and submit their assignments on time and with their best work. Moreover, students should reach out to their advisers, their respective teachers, administrators, Ms. Patterson, or Ms. Minihan with any questions or concerns they are having with distance learning.

    Tech Support
    If your child is having difficulty with his or her device or other technology, please have them email technology@stmsaints.com.

    Emotional Support
    Please know that Ms. Patterson is still here for you and your child.  You can contact her at heather.patterson@stmsaints.com. She and Christina Heath already sent a letter to you regarding this matter and will be sending one to students as well.

    Discipline
    Students are expected to adhere to the rules of the student handbook throughout the entire period of distance learning.

    Flexibility and Understanding
    We understand that this period of distance learning will be a challenge for everyone, and that we need to be flexible and patient with our students and families as they adapt to this difficult time.  At the same time, we ask that you be equally patient and understanding with our faculty as they navigate teaching their classes online. We feel confident that our teachers will continue to provide the excellent education that has  long been associated with St. Martin’s Episcopal School while also being there to support our students through this new endeavor.  

    We will be communicating with you throughout this time, but please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns that you have.  Thank you so much for your continued support! 

    Together We Are Saints.

    Sincerely,

    Peter Adair
    Head of Upper School

    Mary Bond
    Associate Head--Student Affairs

    Tiffany DuSaules
    Associate Head--Academic Affairs 
     
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Upper School Resources

Middle School CLP

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  • March 27, Week 2 Update

    Parents,
     
    I’m sure you are as grateful as I am that the weekend is here! I hope the posting of assignments by 9 a.m. has made for a smoother workflow in your homes.  I continue to value your feedback and that of your children.  

    Be sure to check the StM website this week as our (amazing) Student Support Services Team will be sharing various options for assisting your children during this time.

    I wanted to remind you that the faculty are taking Monday for a Professional Development Day.  We will use this time to reflect on what is/isn’t working, as well as to look toward how to continue to support our students during our time apart.  Faculty will not be available for help sessions, but I can always be reached for any emergencies.

    And, finally, third quarter grades will be visible on Monday afternoon.  I apologize for the delay, but the teachers were asked to make a pretty monumental shift to online education just as we were closing the books on the third quarter.  Many needed additional time to grade and record final assessments.

    I leave you with this prayer:

    Lord,
    it is night.
    The night is for stillness.
    Let us be still in the presence of God.
    It is night after a long day.
    What has been done has been done;
    what has not been done has not been done;
    let it be.
    The night is quiet.
    Let the quietness of your peace enfold us,
    all dear to us,
    and all who have no peace.
    The night heralds the dawn.
    Let us look expectantly to a new day,
    new joys, new possibilities.
    In your name we pray.
    Amen.
    Gratefully yours,
     
    Jenny


    Jenny Velasquez
    Middle School Head
    Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
    St. Martin's Episcopal School
    Twitter:  jvelnola
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  • March 20, Week 1 Update

    Parents,

    As our first week of online education comes to a close, I wanted to touch base again.  I appreciate all the feedback you’ve given me over the past couple of days. One of the adjustments we are seeking to make is to try to post most assignments by 9 a.m. in the morning - or at least at the same time each day.   (Mr. Hernandez, for example, posts assignments by 4 p.m. each day with a due date of 4 p.m. the next day.) The learning curve on this has been incredibly steep for our faculty who are also handling the demands of their own families at home. 

    I’m asking that we continue to be patient with each other.  

    Above all else, know that we are here for you and your children.  If your child misses a deadline or an assignment, please just have him or her email the teacher.  We want to provide instruction and routines for the students, but we are certainly going to be very understanding about the struggles they are facing in this new environment.

    Your child’s advisor should remain your point person for your concerns.  I’m also here to help in any way I can. I have spoken to many of you on the phone and through emails and texts, and I know anxiety is running high in some families.  We want to partner with you to make this as positive an experience as possible.  

    As mentioned in her parent letter earlier this week, Mrs. Heath is now able to conduct Teletherapy (online counseling) beginning this Monday, March 23rd.  Mrs. Heath emailed Middle School students today letting them know of this service.  The platform being used is called VSee which is HIPAA compliant and easy to use on any device.  Students, parents, and faculty will be able to engage in Teletherapy with Mrs. Heath on Mondays and Wednesdays by appointment and other days of the week as needed.  During this transitional time period, please encourage your child to reach out to Mrs. Heath by email to schedule a VSee session if you believe he/she could use an emotional check-in, coping strategies, or anything at all!  As always, your child's wellness, in every capacity, is of the utmost importance to all of us at St. Martin's.  

    I hope you and your children are able to have a restful and relaxing weekend.  Goodness knows everyone has earned it!

    Together We Are Saints.

    Jenny
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  • March 16

    Dear Middle School Parents:
     
    I hope that you and your families are safe and doing well during this difficult time.  It is during times such as this, that I am ever more grateful to be a part of such a loving, empathetic teaching and learning community.

    The faculty and I met with each grade level on Friday to explain in person what online learning will look like for the students.  We were able to share our expectations for them as well as to answer their questions. (And they asked such good questions!)

    We wanted to reach out to you today to make sure you understand our plan for continuous learning.  Our faculty have been hard at work in preparation to move fully to distance learning starting this Wednesday, March 18th. (Many assignments have already been posted for students.)  Below is a summary of our Continuity of Learning Plan which details the expectations for our students, teachers, and parents during this period of online learning. 

    Advisor and Teacher Expectations:
    Advisors will be communicating with their advisees weekly via email or their Google Classrooms to check on their progress in all of their courses, as well as their physical and emotional well being. 

    Teachers will establish and communicate weekly office hours when students can contact them with questions or concerns about assignments.  Teachers will post office hours through email, Whipple Hill, or their already-established online learning program. Teachers will also post the specific method(s) that students can reach them during their office hours, including e-mail, Google meet, Google doc comments, etc.  Students will have at least 24 hours to complete and submit an assignment from the time it was assigned.  This will ensure that we are as flexible as possible in accounting for things that might be outside a student’s control.

    Online learning assignments will align with the course’s already-established expectations, standards, and objectives, though content itself may shift in the best interest of the students.  We aim to provide meaningful learning experiences for the students as they work remotely.  

    We will be posting inspirational quotes, funny memes, and tips on how to stay mindful and creative during this stressful time at our MS website:  www.stminthemiddle.com.

    Student and Parent Expectations:
    To ensure academic success, students will consistently check their school email, Whipple Hill, Google Classroom, and any other online learning program established by their teachers for class assignments and announcements.  We have instructed them to check at least 5 times a day.  (First thing in the morning, mid-morning, mid-afternoon, late-afternoon, evening, etc.) Students should work independently to complete and submit their assignments on time.  Moreover, students should reach out to their advisers, their teachers, Ms. Stewart, or Ms. Velasquez with any questions or concerns they are having with distance learning.

    We are suggesting that you help your child establish a daily routine that balances school work, screen time, outdoor play, family time, chores, etc.  

    Emotional Support
    Please know that Mrs. Heath is still here for you and your child!  Don’t hesitate to contact her at christina.heath@stmsaints.com if you need support of any kind. Also, be sure to check Mrs. Heath’s email that was sent out earlier today regarding ongoing counseling services being offered during distance learning.

    Tech Support
    If your child is having difficulty specifically with his or her Chromebook or other technology, please email technology@stmsaints.com.

    Discipline
    Students are expected to adhere to the rules for academic honesty and proper online etiquette throughout the entire period of distance learning.

    Understanding and Flexibility
    We understand that this period of distance learning will be a challenge for everyone, and that we need to be flexible and patient with our students and families as they adapt to this difficult time.  At the same time, I ask that you be equally patient and understanding with our faculty as they navigate teaching their classes online.  We feel confident that our teachers will continue to provide the excellent academic experience that is long associated with St. Martin’s Episcopal School while also being there to love and support them as they navigate this new endeavor.

    As always, please contact me by email (jvelasquez@stmsaints.com) or by phone if you need me.  (Cell 504-442-1991) Like so many others, the volume of emails and calls I am receiving is higher than average. I appreciate your patience and understanding if my response time is a little slower than usual.  

    Together We Are Saints.

    Gratefully yours,

    Jenny


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Middle School Resources

Lower School CLP

List of 3 items.

  • March 27, Week 2 Update

    Dear Lower School Parents,
    I hope this note finds you well. The faculty and I really miss seeing your children! Today marks the completion of two full weeks of our Continuing of Learning Plan (CLP) in action, and I am so proud of our Lower School families. Here at home, the Dieth family continues to strive to find balance. We are feeling more of a rhythm, but it is a work in progress for us. We are getting better with each passing day.  
    With thoughtful consideration of our community, St. Martin’s continues to examine our daily operations and make needed adjustments. As such, we are implementing a change with the activities posted by our amazing and creative teachers of “special” classes (Spanish, music, art, and religion). Effective immediately, all activities posted by special subject teachers will be available to you for the sole purpose of enriching and enhancing your child's educational experiences during our time away. Special subject class activities are optional.
    Likewise, we are continuing to be purposeful by consolidating assignments and streamlining our expectations. I want to remind you that we are here to help. Teachers have been scheduling support via FaceTime (or some other platform) with students and their parents. We appreciate you partnering with us; we are here for you.
    Lastly, I wanted to let you know that on Monday, March 30 and Thursday, April 9 our faculty will be busy participating in a school-wide professional development to discuss and evaluate our Distance Learning Plans. For you and your children, there will be no assigned work or expectation of work on those days. Be sure to check the StM website this week. Our Student Support Services team will be sharing various options for assisting your children during this time.  Please contact me if you need anything at all. Have a wonderful weekend! I look forward to seeing you all as soon as we can.  
    Sincerely,

    Ford Dieth
     
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  • March 20, Week 1 Update

    Dear Parents:
    I hope this note finds you well. The faculty and I really miss seeing your children! We have reached the end of our first week instituting our Continuity of Learning Plan. 

    At my house, we are working on a daily schedule/routine for everyone.  It will likely take us a little more time to perfect that. 

    I appreciate the feedback that I have received so far.  We are working on the frequency and volume of our communications.  We are striving to consolidate assignments. I want to remind you that we are here to help.  If something isn’t working correctly, please just let us know. 

    We appreciate partnering with you and greatly look forward to the time when we will be able to deliver content and hugs to your children live and in person. 

    Please contact me if you need anything at all. Have a wonderful weekend!

    Ford Dieth
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  • March 16

    Dear Lower School Parents,

    I hope that you and your families are safe and doing well during this difficult time. In circumstances such as these, I am ever more grateful to be a part of such a loving, empathetic teaching and learning community.

    The administration and I met with the faculty on Thursday and Friday of last week to discuss our plans for distance learning, and the unique needs of the young students in our Lower School community.

    I wanted to reach out to you today to make sure you understand our Continuity of Learning Plan (CLP). Our teachers have been hard at work preparing the move to distance learning beginning this Wednesday, March 18. (Many assignments have already been posted for students.) Parents and students should contact their teachers, Ms. Chisesi, Dr. Despaux, or me with any questions or concerns they may have. Please be mindful that children do best with structure and predictable routines; therefore, we strongly encourage you to help your child by establishing a daily schedule that balances school work, screen time, outdoor play, family time, chores, etc.  

    LIBRARY LEARNING PLAN
    - From Mrs. Madden

    Accelerated Reading - Home Access:
    Reading is a priority at St. Martin’s. Therefore, we are happy to announce that students in grades 2-4 now have access to the Renaissance Accelerated Reading Quizzes from home through the direct school account link:
    This system is available Monday - Friday from 7:30 am - 4:30 pm.

    If the student does not remember his/her user name, please email your teacher or Mrs. Madden:
    ethel.madden@stmsaints.com.  The school-wide password is lsar.

    WorldBook Online - StM Home Access:
    https://www.worldbookonline.com/wb/Login?ed=wb
    User ID is stmsaints, and the password is saints.

    This is not just the old WorldBook Encyclopedia.  Although the resource still has the comprehensive encyclopedia search features, it also offers:
    Early learning - videos, games, stories, and art activities
    Engaging educational programs - geography (maps and more), games, puzzles,
    compare places, science projects, and more.

    Reading Recommendations and Access to Free E- Books:
    The librarian will release new grade-level independent reading recommendations focused on Public Library virtual resources.  (She met with the Jefferson Parish Public Librarian last week to initiate resource partnerships.)
    Virtual Author Events: She is exploring Skype calls for 3rd and 4th graders with well-known popular authors through our partners at Scholastics, Barnes & Noble, and Garden District Book Shop.  

    Project and Writing Support for Signature Projects: 
    American Heritage Day (3rd Graders) - Mrs. Madden is more than happy to continue assisting students with researching and writing their various American Heritage components.

    Shark Tank 2020 (4th Graders)
    -  Mrs. Madden can assist students with writing their book reports and creating the paper bag props for their oral presentations.
    Virtual Office Hours: The Lower School Librarian will be available to provide support to students, families, and faculty members by email, Google Hangouts, or cell phone between 7:30 a.m and 4:00 p.m.

    EMOTIONAL SUPPORT
    Please know that Mrs. Heath is still here for you and your child!  Don’t hesitate to contact her at christina.heath@stmsaints.com if you need support of any kind. Also, be sure to check Mrs. Heath’s email that was sent out earlier today regarding ongoing counseling services being offered during distance learning.

    TECH SUPPORT
    If you and your child are having difficulty specifically with his/her Chromebook or other technology, please email technology@stmsaints.com.

    UNDERSTANDING AND FLEXIBILITY
    We understand that this period of distance learning may be a challenge at times, and that we need to be flexible and patient with our students and families as they adapt to these extraordinary circumstances. At the same time, I ask that you be equally patient and understanding with our faculty as they navigate teaching their classes remotely. Our Continuity of Learning Plan is both thoughtful and comprehensive; we are confident that our teachers will continue to provide an excellent academic experience that is long associated with St. Martin’s Episcopal School. 

    As always, please contact me by email (
    ford.dieth@stmsaints.com) or by phone if you need me (cell) 504.452.6316.  I am available to help with anything, and I intend to stay in regular communication with you.
    Together We Are Saints.

    Sincerely,
    Ford Jones Dieth, Jr.
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Lower School Resources

George Cottage CLP

List of 3 items.

  • March 27, Week 2 Update

    Happy Friday, Families!
    Below is the link to my week 2 update: 
     
    I thought that a video might offer the chance for you who are multitasking to listen while you are working rather than having to read an extended message. If you prefer to read through a list of items covered, see below.
     
    Here are also a few book readings for the weekend:
     
     
     
    As a reminder, all books are stored in this folder: 
     
    Together We Are Saints,
    Holly
     
    Update Items:
    - Thank you for all that you are doing to sustain your children and to juggle the many roles that you are playing as parent, teacher, worker, and health monitor. You are doing a great job, even if you don't believe it, and what your children will remember about this time is the memories that you create as you are spending time together. Though it may seem incredibly fraught with stress, the books you read to them, the art projects that you celebrate, and the silly dances that you do together in the kitchen will be the snapshots that remain.
     
    - Thank you to the teachers for all that they have done to individualize communication with families and to translate a hands-on, relationship based teaching structure rooted in face-to-face interactions into a nurturing distance learning environment delivered electronically.  They have gone beyond what I could have imagined in creating ways to build community from afar.
     
    - We are going to have a school-wide Professional Development day on Monday so that teachers across our campus will have the chance to pause and evaluate our current means of teaching.  It will give us a chance to talk about difficulties, to streamline our methods of communication with families and each other, and will help us to make a plan for the next phase of distance learning.  It will also offer a much-needed break for the students, particularly in Middle and Upper School, to rest and reset for the next few weeks' studies.
    This will not alter the Cottage plan much beyond the fact that content that has been delivered on Mondays may be deferred to Tuesday and teachers may not be as accessible as they join zoom meetings throughout the day.
     
    - I miss you and your children!  Please send photos, messages, or videos via email or text. I promise to respond!
     
    - If you were unable to take home supplies (especially diapers!), and find that you need them, please let me know. I can bag them for pick up at school at your convenience.
     
    - We want to provide enough activity suggestions and resources to support you, but do not want to overwhelm you. If you are in need of more suggestions or a different type of support, please reach out to me or to your teachers. If you are overwhelmed and are not even ready to consider the first round of activities, that's okay!  Read to your kids and find 5-10 minutes to spend some one-on-one time with them during the day just being together. :)
     
    - Keep loving on each other and following the guidelines of our local leaders to flatten the curve.  Be safe and be healthy!
    Holly Dalferes, M.Ed.
    Director, George Cottage
    St. Martin's Episcopal School
    225 Green Acres Road
    Metairie, LA  70003
    504-736-9901 
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  • March 20, Week 1 Update

    Good evening, Families!
    We have made it through week one of distance learning and I have heard from many of you that you are settling into a routine and are discovering the joy of having some extended time with your children.  I hope that this continues and that you will let us know how we can help you to make this a great period of learning and fun for your family.
     
    Below is a video recap of the week and one more story to carry you through the weekend.  In case you need them, messages from me and from our larger school community will be posted on the StM COVID-19 Information Page (https://www.stmsaints.com/about/stm-news/covid-19-school-information--messagesand beginning next week, I will add all of my videos to a folder that will be linked there so that you can find them in one location.  Once that is in place, I will let you know and will send a reminder with each new message.
     
    Holly's 3/20 update: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OcA5PFW0vCE 
     
     
    I hope that you will continue to share photos and videos with me in the coming weeks.  I miss you all and look forward to being together again soon!
     
    Together We Are Saints.
    Holly
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  • March 16

    Dear George Cottage Parents,

    I hope that you and your families are safe and doing well.  I wanted to reach out to you today to make sure you understand our plan for continuous learning.  While our interactions with students will be generally less academic than what children in older divisions will experience, we are committed to maintaining contact with your families and continuing to support you as best we can remotely. We aim to provide meaningful learning experiences for the students during this time off-campus, and will continue to share content that will build their skills in all areas. 

    Our faculty have been hard at work preparing to transition to distance learning starting this Wednesday, March 18. Below is a summary of our Continuity of Learning Plan (CLP) as it relates to George Cottage families and teachers. 

    The Role of the Teacher:
    So much of what makes early education special centers around the social elements of teachers and students learning together.  It is our goal to maintain these connections between parents, teachers, and children while the role of primary daytime caregiver shifts back to parents during this period.  

    Your child's teachers will check in with you twice a week to maintain a personal connection and discuss the physical and emotional wellbeing of your family. As we know, each family will have different needs during this time. Therefore teachers will have an initial conversation with you this week about your plans (which we understand may be more fluid than consistent) and then will adapt their communication pattern to best fit your availability and need for support.

    I have asked teachers to check email and HiMama several times each day, and we will continue to use those forums as our primary means of communication.  We will share activities on a weekly basis using materials that were sent home, that you may already have, or that can be easily acquired. In addition, we plan to share websites and parenting blogs, as well as literacy videos and songs that you can sing together. 

    We will also create and share content so that your child will be able to see familiar faces and hear familiar voices during this time. Twice a week, the teachers will share a virtual storytime with videos of them reading books, narrating a nature walk, or sharing an activity.  We understand that each family may be on a different schedule based on the work patterns of parents, the availability of caregivers, and the general health of the family. As such, our current plan is for content to be available on-demand rather than on a live schedule. Any real-time sessions will be advertised with plenty of notice to allow participation by the largest group possible.

    Your home is your child's first classroom, so our goals are to support you in keeping your children happy and engaged; to provide you with resources to help your child continue to grow; and to keep you connected to our community even while we are physically apart. 

    The Roles of the Parent and Student:
    On Friday, your child took home a collection of items that can be used to encourage open-ended learning and to reinforce some of the activities that we use as provocations within the classroom on a daily basis. Items like straws, pompoms, toothpicks, styrofoam balls, chopsticks, and foam shapes can all be used to help your child create works of art, practice fine motor skills, use their planning and imagination skills, and include math within their play.  We have also included a list of high-quality books to read with your child as well as a list of suggested activities to keep them exploring and occupied. We have a bag set aside for each child, so if your student did not receive a bag, please contact me to arrange access. At the beginning of April, we will plan an opportunity for you to replenish your resources.

    Because we want to maintain connections with you and your children, we would love to see and share photos of your family in action and hear feedback on how the children responded to the activities that we shared or that you undertook. This is a great way to simulate a playdate while still honoring the recommendation of social distancing. 

    Though not a requirement, a journal of your time at home is also a good idea to document things learned, questions that were provoked by your child’s play, and milestones reached.  It can be as simple as keeping an electronic album of photos on your phone or it could be a physical accumulation of work-product in a notebook or binder. Once we reunite, it will be a great way for children to share their experiences with their peers and to reflect all that they learned while they were apart.  

    Emotional Support:
    Remember that children learn best through play and that they may not always be able to tell you when they are feeling anxious. Children are very intuitive and may reflect the concern that they sense from you in their play. Some changes in temperament are to be expected during this confusing time, so be aware when your child may be trying to navigate some big feelings. Help her or him to name those emotions and to work through them.

    Know that we are here to support you and your family during this time.  Please feel free to reach out to me, your child’s teachers, or our counselor, Christina Heath (christina.heath@stmsaints.com).

    Flexibility and Understanding:
    We understand that this period of distance learning will be a challenge for everyone and that flexibility will be the key to success. The teachers and I are working to help alleviate some of the anxiety associated with having your child at home for an extended period of time. At the same time, we ask that you be equally patient and understanding with our faculty as they navigate supporting families almost exclusively online, a forum very different from the daily face-to-face conversations that we are able to have with most of you. 

    I am accessible via email, and messages from my office phone will come to me via email, so you are welcome to reach out at any time - day or night - with any questions or concerns by calling 736.9901, and I will get back with you as soon as I can.

    Our overarching goal at George Cottage, as it is for all of St. Martin's, is to be a community of healthy and happy learners. Though we will be physically apart for a short time, we will remain close in spirit and we are looking forward to our reunion.  You will all be in my prayers as you navigate this time.

    Together We Are Saints.

    Sincerely,
    Holly
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George Cottage Resources