Re-opening our doors on September 1st brought a flood of excitement from students and faculty who were thrilled to be together again for in-person learning. Students were enthusiastic to get back in the classroom to see their friends, teachers, and continue building the strong relationships that are a cornerstone of our school. Although the year has brought new challenges, Derby has preserved, adapted, and discovered new ways to engage students and its community. As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, it’s important to take time to pause and reflect on what we’re grateful for this season.
1. Dedicated Faculty and Staff
Let’s give it up for our faculty and staff! Their endless dedication to students and commitment to providing a safe in-person learning environment is extraordinary. They have spent countless hours planning lessons to adapt to new safety guidelines and found creative ways to keep students engaged, including bringing reading sessions outdoors, Zooming with guest speakers in music and history class, and painting outside. We can’t thank them enough for all their time and dedication this year.
2. Our Resilient Students
Seeing our happy students back at school is truly an incredible feeling. They bring the campus to life sharing laughter with friends, playing football on the 1784 Field during recess, reading outdoors for English, and designing projects with the MakerSpace 3D printers. They persevered through the shift to remote learning last spring and are adapting to the new health and safety protocols with ease—wearing masks, washing hands more often, and maintaining social distance. Even with the new safety protocols, our students continue to smile through their masks and are excited to learn—they are the heart of our school and we’re so thankful for their resilience.
3. Spacious Campus and Facilities
Having a spacious 27+ acre campus gives us the fortunate ability to be open for in-person learning during COVID-19. With multiple buildings and grade-level specific exit and entry points, our campus limits contact between grade levels. Small class sizes and new individual desks also help maintain social distancing within classrooms. New additions to our outdoor facilities—mask break areas, social distancing “tree cookies,” outdoor seating, and tents designated for classes like Spanish, art, and music—allow teachers to utilize the campus as a place for discovery.
4. Remote Learning Option
Ensuring our community feels safe and comfortable during COVID-19 is a top priority and we're so grateful to our teachers for designing lesson plans that meet the needs of our remote learners at home. Through synchronous and asynchronous learning, our faculty stay connected, engaged, and ensure that children at home feel known and part of the classroom.
5. Maintaining Programming
It feels great to be back in the classroom teaching and learning our favorite subjects and having flexible programs that can easily adapt to our health protocols. Interscholastic sports shifted to intramurals, drama class features more expression through movement, Model UN Club events are held virtually with students communicating with other members from across the country, and our Pals stay connected through virtual sessions and handwritten letters. We’re also thankful to be back on campus to maintain the hands-on learning environment we know and love—building lighthouse-shaped lamps in woodshop, collecting soil samples for testing at Broad Cove, and learning hand stitching in sewing class.
6. Our Families
Parents and families are integral to our community and we thank them endlessly for their patience, understanding, commitment, and communication during our re-opening process. We truly miss seeing their smiling faces, participating in classroom activities, watching performances, and joining us for events. We’re so grateful for their understanding of our protocols to help maintain a healthy learning environment for all. Even with the limited access to campus, our families are still building connections through community fundraisers, virtual parent social nights, community service initiatives, and virtual parent morning coffees.
Although the coming year will continue to bring challenges, it won’t stop us from practicing gratitude and being thankful for the wonderful faculty, students, campus, programming, and families that we are so lucky to have here at Derby.