Headmaster’s Newsletter

Update to Academy Families — August 28, 2020

Bell tower an flag
August 28, 2020

Dear St. Johnsbury Academy Families,


Today’s update will be the last of its kind. As of next week, we will transition back to the Academy’s more regular communication mechanism, which is the Monday weekly newsletter with a message from the Headmaster. I won’t hesitate to communicate urgent or timely information — and this year there will likely be a need to — but I want to recognize that these Friday letters have served as a way for us to share the ongoing progress of our hardworking Administrative team, COVID response task forces and teams, and many other dedicated staff groups as they have planned and prepared for the moment that has now come.


This week we welcomed our faculty and staff back to campus, and spent the last five days learning about what will be required for life on the Academy campus to resume, and for good teaching to happen in our classrooms and Zoom rooms. We held advisory meetings, health and safety information sessions, IT training, and workshops about teaching concurrent online and in-person classes; and departments spent time adapting their courses and adjusting their mindsets toward this new mode of engaging our students. After listening in on their work, and hearing from department chairs and other faculty about how they are digging in to the challenge of this unusual semester, I am not only confident and humbled by the work ahead, but also excited.


So, what I will leave you with today is what I know for sure from the lessons of this week with staff and teachers: there is nothing St. Johnsbury Academy wants more than to have students back on campus. After all the preparation, we can’t wait to begin working, academically and otherwise, with these inimitably energetic and extraordinary young people. In the barrage of technical information, guidelines, and protocols that we have had to contend with for weeks, we have not lost track of how intrinsically joyful teaching and learning is and should be, and how eager we are to have that joy back in our school. It’s what all the planning has been for, and it’s what inspires us to do the best we can to make this school year possible.


Much more information about next week’s Orientation (scroll down the page) and the logistics of school life is on both the student portal and the Opening Roadmap, which will be updated with some new FAQs from last night’s Zoom. You will also be hearing directly from Campus Life about things like lunch, and soon you will make contact or reconnect with your student’s advisor—the one who helps connect and make sense of the different aspects of your student’s school experience. 


Thank you, as always, for trusting us with your students, especially in this pandemic time — we will take good care of them. And remember that to care for and protect each other, we are counting on our mutual commitment as a community and our steady partnership with you.


Until Monday,


Dr. Sharon Howell


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