A Letter From the Head of School
On behalf of the teachers and staff at Hampstead Academy, I wish to thank each of you for the blessing of being entrusted with your children daily. At the recent graduation I offered to an intimate
audience: “Many of you have heard it. If you have not yet, you likely will and will hear it over-and-over again. ‘Let me tell you about 2020…’.” Many, throughout the world will need to process the trials, tribulations, and tragedies of the year. But for our children, due to the courage and commitment of our staff and the faith and unyielding support of our families, we did it! My recollections, hopefully our collective recollections, of 2020 will be of children being children! I will preserve memories of families working in unique collaboration with staff to afford the opportunity for children to be children. I will remember a candor and openness between a school and its students homes as never experienced within 39 years in the profession. I genuinely believe affected public school districts are mistakenly assuming the ‘worst has passed.’ I published a recent article forewarning the fall brings with it unprecedented issues for schools. Having been absent from direct instruction for 18 months, who, truly are the students who will return? Will grade level promotion determined by mere age be assumed? Will there be unprecedented child anxiety, significant social emotional delays and undue stress on teachers instructing classes with significant developmental and cognitive disparities? As proud as I am of what the academy has accomplished, I am prouder of what the academy diverted. Hampstead Academy has not only avoided the certain challenges for many schools in the fall, but it has also seen significantly expanded enrollments ensuring our fiscal viability for the fall. Though I have tried my best here, I cannot possibly put into words the gratitude I have for being granted the privilege of leading the school and for all who have supported my focused efforts. I wish each one of you a well-deserved and restorative summer.
Business Model update
Everlead, LLC, the owners of the school also offers animated words of encouragement and commitment. They believe in what we are doing and remain invested our long-term success. Ms. Lisa Fan, our business manager, has been extraordinary in her outreach and facilitation of new student inquiries. Our significant expansion in enrollment, which well exceeds the targets of the original business plan model for the school, would not be possible without Lisa’s gifts and time. During school tours I have represented to all new families a commitment to preserve small class sizes. But we simultaneously celebrate have a healthy expansion of class sizes which will allow for more dynamic instruction: no class exceeding fifteen members. At the present time there is no proposed restructuring of classes. In addition, in the fall the academy will retain paraprofessional support for teachers focused upon optimal, individualized instruction, through small group gatherings.
Starting Wednesday June 17th, someone will be present in the school office Monday through Friday. The best means to communicate immediate needs, ask questions, contact staff or schedule visitation is through email (Hampstead@hampsteadacademy.org) which will be checked daily.
The Fall and Covid Protocols
While we celebrate wonderful developments nationally and locally in the response to the pandemic, it would not be prudent for me to delineate specific protocols for the fall at the present time. I wish, however, to offer some general thoughts. If progress continues, Hampstead Academy would reopen in the fall with a fully vaccinated adult staff. All students would be expected daily for in person, direct instruction. As many of you know, we have ended our year by setting aside mandated mask use for students for the last three days in session. It would be my hope that in the fall, the monetary imposition of a mask would only be upon arrival each day until individual students’ temperatures are taken. If permitted to enter the school, the child would do so mask free. Again, in June this is not a final decision but merely a conjuncture. As every family has done during the year, we have faith if exposure or health risks unfold outside of school families would remain candid. But here is where I wish to make some belief statements. Personally, and professionally, I believe schools must model respect for personal fears. If a parent wishes their child to carry a mask and use it electively, the academy support the decision. The science of vaccination of youth remains red hot. Here, too, and with some certainty, I cannot imagine ever mandating vaccination as a condition of daily entry into school. Such a personal decision should be made by families.
I am pleased to announce I have asked Ms. Gretchen Shaw and Ms. Keri Lynn Barneson if each would be willing to reestablish the Parent-Teachers Association and co-chair the school-to-home partnership for two years. Each knowing our community well, will focus upon outreach to and orientation our new families and will communicate soon opportunities to all interested in assisting the association’s efforts to support and enrich our students’ educational experiences.
Partnership, Programs and Affiliations
A substantial amount of time and energy has been invested in the establishment and growth of partnerships [commercial], programs [enrollment enticements] and affiliations [academic] to assist our school’s growth. There will soon be news on this front, but the pandemic has significantly delayed each of the agency the ability to delineate final commitments.
Ms. Jean Corbin
In a prior newsletter, I announced the retirement of Ms. Jean Corbin after twenty-eight years at the academy. I first extend my sincerest thanks to her for her warm reception upon my arrival, her unconditional accessibility as I asked, and asked, and asked questions and advice. Her unique insights into the school community made such a difference. Join me in wishing her much happiness in her Maine adventure.
I am thrilled to announce Ms. Marisa “Matty” A. Farrell will join our school community in the fall as our general music teacher. Matty has a passion for choral instruction [voice as instrument]. A central focus on the “A” in STEAM, Ms. Gretchen Shaw, Ms. Lisa Peterson and Matty will be invested in collaborative projects linking the visual and performing arts and engaging interdisciplinary studies: learning across all
subjects using the arts as instructive tools.
Have a wonderful summer !
Dr. John Billings
Head of School