Dear KMS Families:
I want to first start by wishing each and everyone one of you peace and health during a trying time. So much these days is unknown, and what we think we know one day about how to live in the age of COVID-19 changes the next. I keep trying to remind myself and others that despite the unknowable, there are things we can be certain of and thankful for: family, health, being present, gratitude, love, wisdom, kindness and character. The virus is real, but it also carries great potential to bring out the “better angels of our nature,” and we must remain committed here to each other now, even if we can’t be together. KMS is a values-based organization, and I’ve included a link here from an article a faculty member sent me a week ago; it speaks to what it means to live Adversity, Responsibility and Character.
Tomorrow, we resume online learning, and I am writing to remind everyone of what you can expect from KMS over the next several weeks. Know that WE are all still working! Our coaches are and will be reaching out to their groups and individual athletes; advisors have been asked to check in with students and families; the strength and conditioning team (led by High Performance Director, Kip Spangler) has been loading workouts into Teambuildr; and teachers have been ramping up for a resumption of remote academic learning, which formally begins tomorrow, Wednesday, March 18, at 1:20 PM. KMS will maintain our regularly scheduled weekly faculty and administrative meetings via Google Meet, and will proceed as normal other than not being together in person.
At the beginning of our mission are the words, “We are a community, united by shared passions and a competitive spirit; our commitment to each other is built upon teamwork and mutual respect.” The last line of our mission reads, “Our students are uniquely prepared for life beyond KMS.” These lines speak volumes about KMS and what we stand for. We are a community, and I was reminded of how important this is to our identity when Dave Willis, Assistant Head of School, shared this message with me from Hobart College, where his daughter is a Sophomore:
The distance we impose now must not erase the community we have all built together.
We must remember who we are and where we come from. Resuming classes tomorrow will be a small but significant step in this process, and we look forward to welcoming all of our full and winter-term students back to class. Any winter-term students who have not re-enrolled at home are welcome to remain part of our regular programming through the end of term, April 3. We recognize that our winter students are returning to a home school situation that is far from normal; KMS wishes to work with our families to ensure continuity of academics, athletics and community support. If staying on this spring will be less disruptive to your child, please reach out right away to Emily and April to discuss academic options. For the remainder of this school year, and regardless of where our students end up, we are a community, and we will remain united in strength and committed to persevere.
The second line, “uniquely prepared,” has become evident over the past six days. As soon as we made the decision to switch to remote learning, our faculty and students were ready. KMS has been developing a robust online teaching platform for the past six years. We are a G-Suite school, which means that all of our full and winter-term course content is already accessible through Google Classroom. KMS full-term students start their academic year in mid-August while training on glaciers in Europe and South America. Chemistry teachers instruct students in organic chemistry while they are competing with the US Ski Team abroad. Last year while visiting a sick relative in Argentina, Claudia Revenko-Bowen taught her classes via remote to a room full of students at KMS. Many of our coaches also use Google Classroom to manage their athletic teams, so when we announced that online learning would start this week, everyone at KMS took it as a continuation of what we already do. While other schools are scrambling to train-up teachers and students, or are considering which platform to use, our faculty and students are uniquely prepared. Or, as Claudia and Robert said to me when I asked what their students’ reactions were when told we’d be moving to remote learning, “They’re just calling it, ‘Wednesday.’”
KMS is a wonderful place and a great school, but we are also a business, and as strange as it may be to discuss next year, re-enrollment letters of intent were sent last week to all eligible returning KMS families. You can help KMS by signing and returning your intents, and starting to make your FY21 tuition payments on time. We need to ensure the financial integrity of our school, and each spring KMS relies on the arrival of next year’s tuition payments to continue operating. I know it might seem premature in the face of the unknown, but we need your commitment now more than ever.
In this time of crisis there’s the unknown, the unknowable, and the certain. We fully intend to be here through June and intend to work with your children again through the summer and next school year. Our school is uniquely prepared for life beyond KMS, and this level of preparation will result in a sense of normalcy and routine for our students who need this now more than ever. Please help us create certainty by making these commitments for next year. In light of the disruption of the past few days and weeks, we are extending the deadline for re-enrollment until next Friday, March 27, with the earliest payment plans initiating April 1, 2020.
In closing, we begin and end each meeting these days checking in on the health and mental well being of each other. We can not predict what short and lasting effect this crisis will have on our children and their lives, but we know that it is stressful for everyone, adults and kids alike. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and encourage your children to do the same. We are acutely aware that our families and faculty may need extra support during this time. Please let us know of any and all developments; any help or support that KMS can provide, we will. Not being physically present for each other, we rely on your observations and communication now more than ever.
It is time for KMS to live our values, and for our values to come to the fore…
Adversity - Responsibility - Character
Take this time to reassess your priorities, and take stock of what is truly important. We can and will emerge a stronger community and nation, but not without purpose and dedication to the task. KMS is more than just athletics and academics, we are about people, values, community, perseverance, humility, grace, compassion, trust, honor and gratitude. Time now to live the words with which we close most assemblies and gatherings:
Take care of yourself. Take care of eachother. Take care of your place in the world.
KMS Head of School