The entire Princeton Day School community embarked on a new chapter of online learning last week, after the March 7-22 spring break was extended to three weeks for families to allow PDS faculty and staff to launch the transition. While week one of Panthers Online was not without its technology and other challenges for students, families and faculty, it was clear that the learning and camaraderie experienced across the school was impressive and creative.
Assistant Head of School for Academic Life and Middle School Head Renée Price summed up the week on Friday, stating, "In this extraordinary time, we are sensitive to the need for everyone—faculty and families alike—to take care of themselves and each other as we all engage in each school day, manage stress and, for many, experience long work days."
Mrs. Price continued, "Even as all of our teachers have adapted to Panthers Online, they are also preparing academic comments, building lessons plans, providing 1:1 feedback, working around tech glitches, learning new skills and caring for their own families, all while showing love and compassion for our students. The faculty's efforts have been heroic and I know that we will continue to find our rhythm during Panthers Online with continuous feedback and mutual respect."
Family feedback was deeply appreciated this week, and the general tone was of thoughtful support, understanding of the challenges, and enthusiasm as students dug into their online school programming.
To help continue to enhance the Panthers Online program, Princeton Day School provided a brief check-in survey on Friday to families, US and MS students, and all faculty and staff. The plan is to continue these surveys each Friday for the time being.
In the meantime, here is a sampling of highlights from week one of Panthers Online learning across all divisions:
In the video above, Student Council President George Ma '20 and other US students and faculty shared messages of togetherness as Panthers Online got underway. The 8+ minute video is guaranteed to uplift your spirits!
Virtual meetings and other events for the Upper School grade levels, courses, clubs and other organizations included:
- Class Meetings for each US grade featured deans and special speakers, including Head of School Paul Stellato, who spoke with our seniors as represented by a student panel, including Class President Eric Leung.
- All advisories enjoyed checking in daily, often with fun-spirited creativity!
- Several courses held Google Meets to offer group check-in time, while all courses engaged in truly inspired and thought-provoking assignments.
- A full Student Council Meeting was held on Friday to plan spring initiatives
- Coaches held meetings and delivered fitness and skill-building plans; some created videos for their teams, while some players also submitted videos
- PDS community workouts were posted by Coach Darius
- US Mathletes logged in and competed on Friday, apparently very much enjoying the experience despite not winning, according to US faculty Chip Cash!
- The Madrigals held their first remote rehearsal because, as director Edgar Mariano says, "Despite not being able to rehearse in person, the PDS Madrigals never stop making music together!"
- Fun Community Block events included Name that Tune with Mr. Brechmacher; an EnAct Club meeting about how to get involved with this dedicated group of environmental activists; friendly competition and erudite fun through a game of Kahoot! with US librarian Ms. Matlack, and more.
- Dr. Manzulli and the Junior Poetry Elective are celebrating National Poetry month by sharing daily with the whole Upper School a favorite poem chosen by a member of the PDS community.
Our Middle School homerooms and advisories came together virtually to share some much-desired interaction with classmates and face-to-face time with their advisors. MS teachers delivered an outstanding week of programming across courses to students, with group and 1:1 opportunities for connection and support.
- Kahoot! games provided a fun way for students to interact with one another while answering questions created by their faculty members, including Latin teacher Marjorie Barlet.
- MS Librarian Sheila Goeke's daily Library Book Breaks for students or faculty to drop in for help with book recommendations, research help, or just to say hello and connect (screen shot below).
- MS Technology Director Jamie Atkeson taught his students about infographics while also demonstrating his home workspace. (Can you find an example of iconic Vermont wildlife in the yard?)
- MS teacher Tara Quigley provided a photo of a homeroom Google Meet check-in, where many laughs were had while staying productive and helping one another navigate virtual learning:
The exclusively homeroom-based nature of PreK through Grade 4 lends itself to fairly straightforward online organization of homeroom and specialist work, a much-appreciated aspect of the online experience for our youngest learners. The outreach and engagement across all grades provided familiarity and daily routines for all! Daily assignments were eagerly tackled by the students and 1:1 support was in evidence everywhere.
- Sarah Thompson shared a great "deja view" of her Kindergarten classroom, aka her home workspace, with all of the familiar daily K routines adorning the walls!
- Daniel Cohen's 4th Grade Class met virtually to participate in an indoor recess scavenger hunt, with Mr. Cohen recording the official tally of student findings in real time (screenshot of video intentionally blurred):
- LS art and music activities cheered everyone. Below, music teacher Julia Beckmann brought her music into LS family homes daily; and lower schoolers submitted projects assigned by ceramics teacher Eric Rempe and Chris Maher, wood and furniture design instructor:
After an eventful first week, everyone is eager to begin week two of Panthers Online!