July 27, 2020
The first three weeks serving as the MIHS Principal in this time is both wonderful and challenging. I greatly appreciate the work that Vicki Puckett, Jenny Foster, and Henterson Carlisle have done in leading this school and transitioning our new administrative team. Beyond their work to prepare us for the upcoming year, Nick Wold continues to provide a valuable link for our team as we move forward. Along with Nick, l am excited and proud of the team we have assembled to serve our community and welcome Lisa Deen and Jeff Jones to our administrative team.
We have been working with the MISD High School Learning Forward Team to coordinate action plans for the school start “in the time of COVID." Based upon parameters provided by OSPI, King County Department of Health, and District Leadership, we will be starting in a virtual academic learning environment. We will be working with our district, other districts, and relevant agencies to adjust as the situation with COVID changes over time.
As the MIHS Learning Forward Team works on the best possible way to start this year, we identified our school priorities in this time as student safety, adult safety, academic learning, the social-emotional wellness of students, and the development of executive functioning/organizational skills of students. To enhance all of these factors, MIHS will host over 15 hours of live, synchronous instruction per week. Hopefully, this provides increased interaction and effective teacher-student learning time. We are also including office hours for students, during which teachers will be available to assist with student learning challenges.
When considering the relative difficulty in delivering each virtually, we recognize the difficulty in providing for student wellness and the increased demands on students’ organizational and personal management skills in this environment. Therefore and regardless of a virtual or physical presence, we will utilize our advisory program, Islander Hour, to provide a group of peers with whom students can connect and a teacher whom each student can go-to in case of need.
Across the country, schools struggled to adjust to online learning this past spring. As a learning organization, we are working on quality online curriculum and engaging lessons for students that will be ready for the start of school. And as we continue to learn and improve, we look forward to the continued dialog on how we can maximize the learning and care for each and every student.
Recognizing that the virtual environment seriously compromises some of the more fun and exciting aspects of high school, we will be working with various student leadership and spirit groups to find ways to continue Spirit Fridays and to begin new traditions that allow school spirit to go forward even faster than “a Snail’s pace."
In the weeks to come, we will provide information on student schedule access, the daily virtual schedule, Back-to-School day, and plans to onboard our incoming ninth graders. Please stay tuned and connected, as we work together to start a great school year under less-than-great circumstances.
Walter Kelly, Principal
Mercer Island High School