Lower School Update

April 11, 2021

Dear Lower School Families,

This past week has been a busy one for our Lower School students and teachers. Classrooms have been preparing for next week’s Grandparents and Special Friends Day. We have been working on letter writing, interviewing, artistic, and videography skills to help our grandparents and special friends feel connected. Please ensure you are checking your child’s SeeSaw page for details. 

Week of April 12-16

Tuesday, April 13: ERB Testing/Math – grades 4&5

Thursday, April 15: ERB Testing/Reading Comprehension – grades 4&5

ERB Testing Information:
Mount Vernon has continued to partner with Educational Records Bureau (ERB) for standardized testing for students in grades 4-8 using ERB’s Milestones, a condensed version of the CTP-Online. The milestones consist of two, 40-minute tests; one in literacy and one in math. All students in grades 4&5 will participate in Spring assessments on April 13 and 15, and the school will share a prerecorded Parent University video in early May to aid parents in understanding ERB’s score reports. Virtual families, please reach out to Angie Bush, [email protected] to plan for your child’s ERB. Students approved for school accommodations will have access to extended time for their assessments. Please direct any questions to Executive Director of Learning and Innovation Nicole Martin, [email protected], or your respective divisional leadership team

Friday, April 16: Grandparents and Special Friends Day
The Mount Vernon School Lower Campus will celebrate Grandparents and Special Friends on April 16. Our students are excited to connect with their loved ones and show off some of their favorite learning experiences from the year. Please help us by providing contact information for the grandparents or special friends in your child’s life on the Google Forms below. Each homeroom teacher will email the Zoom time and links. Additionally, all Zoom information will be shared on the class SeeSaw pages.

Kindergarten Form Third Grade Form

First Grade Form Fourth Grade Form

Second Grade Form Fifth Grade Form

April 19-23: Rally Spirit Week 2021
Schedule of Events
Get ready to show your Mustang spirit more than ever this week! From decorating cars to themed spirit days, and friendly grade level competitions and a school-wide social media scavenger hunt, to a Virtual all-community game night leading to a surprise reveal, Mount Vernon is ready to get our game on! Virtual Family Feud game night will take place on Thursday, April 22 at 7:00 pm and it is for all ages. Take on other MV family teams in this virtual competition. Plan to wear your Family Feud Game Night shirt or any Mustang Spirit Wear. Gather your family and friends and get ready to play! Be prompt at 7:00 pm to see the surprise reveal. Thank you to our more than 200 sponsors who have gone above and beyond to celebrate and elevate innovation at Mount Vernon.  

Wednesday, April 28: Parent Conference Day/No School for Lower School Students
As a reminder, Lower School will host Parent Conference Day on April 28. Please be on the lookout for sign-ups through Seesaw. There will be no school for students on this day.

Athletic Information for 2021-2022: Cheer, Football, Softball, Volleyball, Cross Country
Please visit the MV Athletic website for required forms and additional information as it becomes available.

5/6 Cheer Tryouts: Rising Grades 5/6

  • May 3-4, 4:00-5:30 pm
  • Lower Campus Turf Field 
  • For more information contact Varsity Head Coach Kimberly Exford at [email protected]

5/6 Football: Rising Grades 5/6 

  • First practice will be in August
  • For more information contact Coach Alex Sims at [email protected]

Middle School Softball: Rising Grades ⅚

  • Tryouts will be in August
  • For more information contact Coach Jeremy Beckham at [email protected]

Middle School Volleyball: Rising Grades 5/6

  • Tryouts will be in August
  • For more information contact Coach Sharon Burnette at [email protected]

Middle School Cross Country: Rising Grades 5/6

  • First practice will be in August
  • For more information contact Coach Katie Cain at [email protected]

The next few weeks of April promise to be fun-filled. We hope everyone enjoyed a wonderful weekend.

Kind regards,

Shelley Searcy
Head of Lower Campus l x2001

Molly Hudson
Director of Lower School l x4211

Communication Archive

April 4

April 4, 2021

Dear Lower School Families,

Happy Easter to your and your family! This short week on campus has been filled with evidence of school spirit and springtime. We had so much fun filming the Mustang Rally Parade video. Additionally, we celebrated the Easter story through our Easter Chapel service and daily lessons in class to help our young children understand the impact of Easter on our faith. Ask your child about the scratchiness of burlap, the growth of a caterpillar, and the beauty of a butterfly’s wings and how these things relate to Easter.

Week of April 5-9

Monday, April 5
No School

Friday, April 16: Grandparents and Special Friends Day
The Mount Vernon School Lower Campus will celebrate Grandparents and Special Friends on April 16. Our students are excited to connect with their loved ones and show off some of their favorite learning experiences from the year. Please help us by providing contact information for the grandparents or special friends in your child’s life on the Google Forms below.

Kindergarten Form Third Grade Form

First Grade Form Fourth Grade Form

Second Grade Form Fifth Grade Form

April 19-23: Rally Spirit Week 2021
Schedule of Events
This week will embody school spirit and community in a physically distant and safe way. While some aspects of our traditional Mustang Rally will be included throughout the week, several surprises are being added. Historically, Mount Vernon’s annual spring event, Mustang Rally brings our entire community together – students, their families, faculty, staff, and community partners to celebrate the spirit of our school. From a parade of classes and field races to a family picnic and an over-the-top carnival on campus – it is an all-day, all-school, all-fun community event. This in-person tradition will eventually return to Mount Vernon once it is safe to do so. 

Wednesday, April 28: Parent Conference Day/No School for Lower School Students
As a reminder, Lower School will host Parent Conference Day on April 28. Please be on the lookout for sign-ups through Seesaw. There will be no school for students on this day.

Remember, we won’t be at school tomorrow, but we look forward to seeing everyone on campus on Tuesday.

Kind regards,

Shelley Searcy
Head of Lower Campus l x2001

Molly Hudson
Director of Lower School l x4211

March 28

March 28, 2021

Dear Lower School Families,

Thank you for your generous gifts during Teacher Appreciation last week. The teachers have enjoyed the special treats and feel loved.

March continues to be a great month for teaching and learning in the Lower School, and we want to highlight some of the ways your children are being challenged to grow as mathematicians. Unfortunately, many of us adults did not grow up with an approach to learning mathematics that included manipulatives, collaborative learning, and discussions to promote a deep understanding of number sense and number systems. However, your children at Mount Vernon greatly benefit from a more comprehensive approach to learning math.

Because the human eye cannot “see” quantities larger than four or five as a whole but instead must use operations to determine how many, humans across cultures and over time have constructed ways to represent amounts symbolically through numerals and operations. One of our goals in the Lower School is to move students’ simple symbol usage of tallies to groups of numerals and from additive systems to multiplicative systems. Mastering math facts is the lowest level of learning needed to be accomplished, so that our lower school students can grapple with the big ideas of place value in real-world contexts.

We want to highlight some of the amazing thinking your children are doing at school presently.

  • Esti-Mysteries invite students to estimate a number that represents an image shown. Clues are given to spark mathematical concepts and guide students towards a reasonable guess. All Lower School students have participated in these challenges this year, but Kindergarten students are now writing their own Esti-Mysteries!
  • Story problems are another way to make math exciting and relevant. First graders are beginning to solve penguin story problems to solidify addition and subtraction strategies. It is a great time to review their 9’s, 10’s, and double facts at home!
  • Second graders are applying their mathematical knowledge to make an impact as they integrate math, economics, and innovation through their Invention Convention IBL.
  • There is so much math in art. Third graders are exploring fractions with some hands-on mosaic tile work inspired by artist, Ellsworth Kelly.
  • Fourth grade is mastering measurement, including time, mass, volume, and linear measurement, as well as conversions between units of measurement.
  • Fifth graders are asking and figuring out, “How might we multiply a fraction by a fraction, divide fractions, and tie it all together?”

Just as children initially struggle to understand that counting 10 fingers represents the quantity of 10, number sense and place value develop slowly with lots of repetition, practice, and encouragement. Our teachers do an incredible job of making this learning relevant and fun for your children through small group, differentiated instruction.

Grandparents and Special Friends Day
The Mount Vernon School Lower Campus will celebrate Grandparents and Special Friends on Friday, April 16! Our students are excited to connect with their loved ones and show off some of their favorite learning experiences from the year. Please help us by providing contact information for the grandparents or special friends in your child’s life on the Google Forms below.

Kindergarten Form Third Grade Form

First Grade Form Fourth Grade Form

Second Grade Form Fifth Grade Form

COVID Update
The School continues to monitor the COVID landscape in real time within our community, to analyze data and trends during the past eight months, and to sustain or modify protocols based on latest information from public health and government officials. Please review Dr. Jacobsen’s weekly update regarding a modification to direct exposure protocol.

Lower Campus COVID landscape heading into the week of March 29:

Lower Campus All Employees
C19 Positive 0 of 489 0 of 248
Direct Exposure 2 of 489 1 of 248

Week of March 29-April 2

Monday, March 29 – Spirit Day for Lower Campus
Lower School students are encouraged to wear spirit wear (spirit shirt with uniform bottoms or jeans) on Monday for the filming of the Rally Spirit Week parade. The recording of this parade will be sent to the community on Friday, April 23. The parade will be physically distanced according to current classroom bubbles. Through the magic of editing, the finished video will bring our entire school together.

Friday, April 2
No School

Monday, April 5
No School

Mount Vernon Parent Network
The Mount Vernon Parent Network (MVPN), in partnership with the School’s Community Development team, hosted three separate open MPVN meetings for parents to learn more about MV’s parent engagement system and how it functions to impact our students and contribute to the School’s mission. The call was open to all MV parents, grandparents, and staff. If you were unable to attend, please read more about MVPN and/or express interest to get involved.

Coming Soon: PlayMaker Class Catalog for 2021-2022
As a reminder, PlayMaker is the School’s after-school enrichment program, offering a variety of classes for MV students (PS-grade 5) who are interested in activities such as gymnastics, robotics, chess, and more. The School is currently designing a robust PlayMaker catalog for the 2021-2022 school year. This catalog will be shared with families on June 7, and registration will begin July 15. Many thanks to Lisa Brady, our K-8 Director of Extended Play/PlayMaker Programs, for her hard work in building an extensive program for our students.

I am so grateful for our School’s commitment to keep our campus open and adhere to the health and wellness protocols during this time. Being on campus is critical for our children to experience this rich learning and fun play. Thank you for your continued support at home.

Kind regards,

Shelley Searcy
Head of Lower Campus l x2001

Molly Hudson
Director of Lower School l x4211

March 21

March 21, 2021

Dear Lower School Families,

It was fun to return to campus after spring break. We appreciate your flexibility on Monday and want you to know how excited and hopeful our teachers were for the opportunity to receive their vaccine! Thank you. This is a big step. 

Unfortunately, our country has experienced another tragedy last week in the mass shootings and violence against our Asian neighbors right here in Atlanta. It is hard to find the words, yet our hearts go out to everyone who has been personally affected, and we continue to be affirmed in our work as a School to empower our community to advance inclusion, diversity, and equity at Mount Vernon. 

Tuesday, March 23: All-Community Parent Network Evening Meeting, 7:00-8:00 pm
Join Mount Vernon’s Community Development team and Mount Vernon Parent Network (MVPN) on the evening of Tuesday, March 23 for an all-community, open MVPN meeting – our third in this series – for parents who are unavailable during the day. Learn more about MV’s parent engagement system and how it functions to impact our students and contribute to the School’s mission. The call is open to all MV parents, grandparents, and staff. Register in advance for this All-Parent meeting to receive the Zoom link.

Wednesday, March 24: Late Start/Spirit Day
Periodically, Mount Vernon has a late start, carved out for faculty/staff to participate in cross-divisional professional learning workshops prior to students arriving on campus. On these select days, carpool will begin at 9:10 on both campuses and the school day will start at 9:30. Childcare will not be available before carpool on either campus.

Additionally, on Wednesday, March 24 we will celebrate the life of Coach Ron Hill, and the impact he made on our community. Students and faculty are encouraged to wear their 03 Reunite spirit shirt in his honor, commemorating his jersey number and fraternity number. 

During this season of Lent as we prepare for Resurrection Sunday, I hope your family is discussing the Easter story and reminded of the hope we have in the cross. Yesterday marked the first day of spring, and spring brings many signs of hope, peace, and beauty that we will enjoy exploring with your children.

Kind regards,

Shelley Searcy
Head of Lower Campus l x2001

Molly Hudson
Director of Lower School l x4211

March 14

March 14, 2021

Dear Lower School Families,

What would literacy be like today if Johannes Gutenberg, in 1450, did not share his knowledge of the printing press? What if Thomas Edison and his team did not continue to apply their knowledge to invent the electric light and later Lewis Lattimer didn’t experiment to iterate Edison’s invention? Can you imagine Atlanta Traffic without Garrett Morgan’s three-way traffic light? All of these inventors and many more have made a big impact on our world. 

Before we left for the break, Lower School was living out being a design thinking school of impact and helping our young students apply their knowledge to make an impact by serving our neighbors. Each grade level went through a design thinking challenge to imagine what the needs of our neighbors, the residents of the Mount Vernon Village, might be this year during the pandemic. We are really proud of their empathetic thinking, ideas, and products.

  • Kindergarten students designed name plates for the residents’ doors.
  • The tissue paper flowers created by our first graders made beautiful bouquets that will last all spring.
  • Second and third graders created games our neighbors could play together. 
  • Knowing the calming effects of art, our fourth graders designed symmetry art.
  • Fifth Graders put their vocabulary skills to the test and created word find and crossword puzzles.

It was incredible to see all of the service learning happening on campus, and we hope you were also able to serve as a family in your immediate community through the School’s Impact Week. Make sure you note the special events listed below.

Monday, March 15 – Early Release
Prior to the break, the School was able to partner with a local healthcare organization to provide a vaccine to the Mount Vernon staff on March 13. Late on March 11, the School was notified that the local health provider would not be able to support the School due to recent reallocation of vaccines to mass vaccination sites. Immediately, the School secured an opportunity with another local health provider, beginning Monday, March 15. In order to coordinate distribution efforts, Mount Vernon will run an early release schedule on Monday, March 15.

Carpool/Dismissal:
11:15 Preschool – Grade 1 (joined by their older G2-5 siblings)
11:30 Lower School Grades 2-5
11:50 Middle School
12:05 Upper School 

Wednesday, March 17
St. Patrick’s Spirit Day – green top with uniform bottoms or jeans 

All-Community, Open MVPA Meeting, 9:00-10:00 am or 12:30-1:30 pm – Join Mount Vernon’s Community Development team and Mount Vernon Parents Association on Wednesday, March 17 for the first all-community, open MVPA meeting. Learn more about MV’s parent volunteer group and how it functions to impact our students and contribute to the School’s mission. The Zoom link will be shared on March 16 and the call is open to all MV parents, grandparents, and staff. 

Wednesday, March 24 Late Start
Periodically, Mount Vernon has a late start, carved out for faculty/staff to participate in cross-divisional professional learning workshops prior to students arriving on campus. On these select days, carpool will begin at 9:10 on both campuses and the school day will start at 9:30. Childcare will not be available before carpool on either campus.

We hope you all had a restful and safe Spring Break and are looking forward to a fun month of learning in March. We are excited to see everyone back on campus tomorrow.

Kind regards,

Shelley Searcy
Head of Lower Campus l x2001

Molly Hudson
Director of Lower School l x4211

February 28

February 28, 2021

Dear Lower School Families,

The sun came out last week, and the smiles in the Lower School got even brighter! Last week we shared a little bit about why we utilize Project Based Learning and what questions our students are exploring. This week, we want to share how this supports child development and student learning. Meaningful project work contributes to strong intellectual development and fosters positive attitudes towards school. Reading, writing, number sense, and scientific thinking are all core components.

Additional Skills developed through the Project Approach include:

  • Taking initiative and accepting responsibility
  • Analyze, theorize, and hypothesize
  • Appreciation and value of others contributions to society
  • Strengthened capacity to wonder

When children’s lives are overly scheduled, they miss opportunities to contemplate big ideas, find joy in their own imaginations, and think through complexities. Project Based Learning moves away from extensive drills and memorization to ignite creativity and critical thinking through collaboration and inquiry.

March 1 – 5 Week of Impact
Join our Mount Vernon community as we participate in hands-on and/or hands-off service the week of March 1 and beyond. Mount Vernon’s MVCares Service committee has listed a variety of opportunities to get involved. Service details, dates, and sign-up links will be sent to our community this week. With so many ways to serve, every family can go out on their own to find a path to fit their schedule, availability, and level of comfort to make an immediate impact on children, families, and the elderly.

Friday, March 5 Early Dismissal
Preschool – Grade 1: 11:15 (joined by their older G2-5 siblings)
Lower School Grades 2-5: 11:30
Middle School: 11:50
Upper School: 12:05

Week of March 8 – 12
Spring Break – No School

Wednesday, March 17
St. Patrick’s Spirit Day – wear green top with uniform bottoms or jeans.

All-Community, Open MVPA Meeting, 9:00-10:00 am or 12:30-1:30 pm – Join Mount Vernon’s Community Development team and Mount Vernon Parents Association on Wednesday, March 17 for the first All-Community, Open MVPA meeting. Learn more about MV’s parent volunteer group and how it functions to impact our students and contribute to the School’s mission. The Zoom link will be shared on March 16 and the call is open to all MV parents, grandparents, and staff.

We hope your family will try your own family PBL by engaging in our Weed of Impact next week. What can you all learn as a family by serving others?

Kind regards,

Shelley Searcy
Head of Lower Campus l x2001

Molly Hudson
Director of Lower School l x4211

February 21

February 21, 2021

Dear Lower School Families,

We have had a great short week, and we want to take this opportunity to highlight some of the rich learning that is going on in our Lower School. As a school dedicated to inquiry-based learning, we value Project-Based Learning with our lower schoolers as a way to increase student interest and engagement in learning. Thanks to CAT scans and DNA analysis, educators know more than ever about how children learn. As a result, Mount Vernon teachers create environments reflective of the interest of our students in order to promote and accelerate progress. Project-Based Learning capitalizes on elementary-aged children’s high motivation to learn and produce work that is meaningful to the real-world. Our teachers are attuned to their curiosities and passion, and use those observations to relate new information with the familiar and spark deeper connections. 

Some of the projects going on right now include: 

  • Kindergarten – What does it mean to be a Collaborator?
  • First Grade – Who came before us in Atlanta?
  • Second Grade / Third Grade Collaboration  How might we teach others about fractions? 
  • Fourth Grade – How might we honor heroes who have not traditionally been recognized in history?
  • Fifth Grade – How does technology change the way people live and work?

In addition to the exciting questions our students are exploring, our second and third graders have been learning from each other masked, distanced, and outdoors. The positive feedback we received from the students on this collaboration was incredible. Be sure to ask your child about the project going on at school, and check out evidence of the learning on your class Seesaw page. Additionally, please note The School’s service week details below and think about how your family may engage in a service project together. 

March 1 – 5 Week of Impact
Join our Mount Vernon community as we participate in hands-on and/or hands-off service the week of March 1 and beyond. Mount Vernon’s MVCares Service committee has listed a variety of opportunities to get involved. Service details, dates, and sign-up links will be sent to our community this week. With so many ways to serve, every family can go out on their own to find a path to fit their schedule, availability, and level of comfort to make an immediate impact on children, families, and the elderly. 

In the meantime, please consider serving at Hope Atlanta with Action Ministries for a Mount Vernon-specific food packing day on Saturday, February 27. Sign up to serve, using ACCESS CODE- MVS. 40 volunteer slots are open, exclusively for Mount Vernon students and families. Physical distancing and safety protocols are strongly enforced.

We know how critical it is for our students to master foundational skills, and we want them to be able to transfer their knowledge and apply skills across content areas. Applying new knowledge to make deeper connections and transferring skills to make an impact makes learning fun and relevant. Not only are our teachers committed to supporting each individual child’s learning goals, we are also committed to doing it through projects that interest and excite our learners. We will have some great demonstrations of this learning to share in the next couple of months. Stay tuned! 

Kind regards,

Shelley Searcy
Head of Lower Campus l x2001

Molly Hudson
Director of Lower School l x4211

February 14

February 14, 2021

Dear Lower School Families,

Happy Valentine’s Day! The Lower School teachers used Valentine’s Day as a launch pad to cultivate empathy and activate imaginations in our young students. Pushing beyond the disruptions of the year, students engaged with the driving question: How might we show our love for one another in a safe way this Valentine’s Day? Classes engaged with our Design Thinking strategies to make discoveries, define trends, design prototypes, and deploy a new process for a Valentine’s Day celebration. 

They activated their Creative Thinker Mindset to brainstorm, listened with empathy during their peer-to-peer and student-teacher interviews, sketched, designed prototypes, responded to feedback, and worked within real-world constraints. It was exciting to see the students’ ideas implemented into a true student-designed Valentine’s Day celebration last week. What creative design thinkers we have in the Lower School! 

Week of February 15-19

Monday, February 15
No School

Wednesday, February 17
Trimester 2 progress reports posted in PowerSchool

Remember, we do not have school tomorrow, but can you believe our third trimester of school begins on Tuesday? We hope you all enjoy the long weekend. 

Kind regards,

Shelley Searcy
Head of Lower Campus l x2001

Molly Hudson
Director of Lower School l x4211

February 7

February 7, 2021

Dear Lower School Families,

It’s February! This past week we launched our Black History Month focus and observed Groundhog Day. Later in the month, we will celebrate Valentine’s Day and President’s Day. We are grateful to still be on campus learning and celebrating together with your young children, and we appreciate your continued commitment to our health and well-being protocols to make this happen. 

This month, we honor the rich diversity of thought, traditions, and culture of our black community and pay tribute to those who have come before us. Science tells us that by the age of four, children can show and feel discrimination. At age five, categorical thinking is strongly developed, and children wonder about differences. At age seven, children often parrot messages they hear from home, and by the fifth grade children have internalized stereotype messages reflected in their communities. 

Oftentimes we assume Lower School children are too young to be exposed to big topics, but I am grateful to be a part of a school who is investing so intentionally in the training of our teachers and designing developmentally appropriate experiences to increase awareness, develop empathy, and produce an inclusive community. Being a School of inquiry, innovation, and impact, we will specifically focus on Black inventors and innovators. Be sure you ask your child and check out the class Seesaw page to learn more alongside your child. Now is the time to emphasize equity and inclusion. 

Week of February 8-12

Monday, February 8
Deadline to complete enrollment

Tuesday, February 9
Parent University: Managing Stress and Anxiety While Parenting in 2021 with Dr. Lisa Damour
8:30-9:30 am via Zoom
We invite our Mount Vernon community of families to join us on Tuesday, February 9, via Zoom, to hear from renowned psychologist and best-selling author Dr. Lisa Damour, who will explain the keys to understanding stress and anxiety under normal circumstances and at times of heightened concern and disruption. Register to participate in the virtual, live Webinar to learn more about:

  • Recognizing the cumulative aspects of stress
  • Parenting through friction at home
  • Managing meltdowns (at any age, including adults)
  • Regulating ongoing stress and anxiety

Dr. Damour welcomes us to submit questions ahead of time using this form.

Thursday, February 11
Valentine Spirit Day
End of Trimester 2

Friday, February 12
No School for students (Faculty/Staff work day)

Week of February 15-19

Monday, February 15
No School

Wednesday, February 17
Trimester 2 progress reports posted in PowerSchool

We are looking forward to all February has to offer our Mount Vernon community. Punxsutawney Phil did see his shadow last Tuesday, and as the legend holds, that means we have six additional weeks of winter. It’s a great time to double check that all coats, hats, and mittens are labeled with your child’s full name as we continue to take learning and play outside. 

Kind regards,

Shelley Searcy
Head of Lower Campus l x2001

Molly Hudson
Director of Lower School l x4211

January 31

January 31, 2021

Dear Lower School Families,

Today is the last day of January, and we want to share a few more thoughts on supporting your young children as strong communicators through rich literacy experiences at school and home. Literacy in the The goal for strong literacy development in elementary school is for the reading, writing, and spelling skills to match.Previously this month, we have shared ideas about communication and reading, and today we are going to focus on writing.

Some Lower Schoolers start out only writing names, but we provide daily opportunities for writing for all of our students who are developing strong written communication skills needed to be college ready and globally competitive. Well-before children can compose a paragraph, tasks like writing in the sand or shaving cream, build those multisensory experiences needed to create muscle memory and solidify a strong literacy foundation. Before you know it, children are writing their own name, composing stories, and eventually completing the full writing process to publish works of fiction and nonfiction. We wish you could walk the halls and see all the impressive work your children have created.

  • Our kindergarteners are using graphic organizers to organize their thoughts and prepare to write narratives. Additionally, they are working on sharing their writing with an audience using either good listening ears or a confident speaking voice and strong eye contact!
  • Second graders have written some amazing nonfiction books including multiple chapters with nonfiction text features. In addition to expressing their knowledge on their passions, students are held at high expectations for organization, word choice, and grammar.
  • The fifth graders are writing about what they are reading. Their hallway displays book recommendations with QR codes, that when scanned, reveal a book trailer. The comprehension and summarizing skills coupled with high expectations for writing with voice, style, and proper conventions.

Support your child’s written expression at home by asking him or her to journal, record a grocery list, or write a letter to a distant relative. We encourage you to give your child lots of choice, model your own journaling and letter writing, and make this fun!

In addition to increasing the time you are reading time with your child, remember to include your child in writing at home too. Whether your child likes to invent imaginative stories or compose essays, extra practice writing at home will support high expectations at school. We are excited about the progress we are seeing with our Lower School students at school. We wanted to share some strategies that you might enjoy at home as we continue to support these foundational skills together.

Tuesday, February 9

Parent University: Managing Stress and Anxiety While Parenting in 2021 with Dr. Lisa Damour
8:30-9:30 am via Zoom
We invite our Mount Vernon community of families to join us on Tuesday, February 9, via Zoom, to hear from renowned psychologist and best-selling author Dr. Lisa Damour, who will explain the keys to understanding stress and anxiety under normal circumstances and at times of heightened concern and disruption. Register to participate in the virtual, live Webinar to learn more about:

  • Recognizing the cumulative aspects of stress
  • Parenting through friction at home
  • Managing meltdowns (at any age, including adults)
  • Regulating ongoing stress and anxiety

Dr. Damour welcomes us to submit questions ahead of time using this form

Kind regards,

Shelley Searcy
Head of Lower Campus l x2001

Molly Hudson
Director of Lower School l x4211

January 24

January 24, 2021

Dear Lower School Families,

This past week our great country and the world watched the 59th Presidential Inauguration. Due to the recent and unpredictable violence in our country coupled with the young ages of our Lower School students, we decided not to show the ceremony live at school. Thankfully, it was again a peaceful transfer of power, so we hope you chose to watch as a family and discuss your child’s observations and questions. All classes explored lessons around the rights and responsibilities of American citizenship at school earlier this school year. Students are learning more about the inauguration, watching Amanda Gormon’s performance, and even writing letters to Dr. King about her poem.

Wednesday, January 27 – Late Start
Periodically, Mount Vernon has a late start, carved out for faculty/staff to participate in cross-divisional professional learning workshops prior to students arriving on campus. On these select days, carpool will begin at 9:10 on both campuses and the school day will start at 9:30. Childcare will not be available before carpool on either campus. 

I am encouraged to see Mount Vernon Lower Schools students focused on being upstanders and engaged citizen leaders this year. The lessons they are learning and values they are adopting give us hope of a bright future.

Kind regards,

Shelley Searcy
Head of Lower Campus l x2001

Molly Hudson
Director of Lower School l x4211

January 17

January 17, 2021

Dear Lower School Families,

It is a great time of year for teachers. Health and Wellness protocols are established, relationships have been built, and classroom routines are efficient! Our students have mastered first semester learning goals, and they are ready to be challenged and stretched as they are exposed to more complex learning. We want to encourage you to increase the time your child spends reading at home to support increasing expectations in school. The winter holidays, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Inauguration of a new President, and classic literature all provide a rich diversity of experiences you might enjoy exploring with your child. While our Kindergarten students are mastering the alphabetic code and learning their site words, our fourth and fifth graders are learning strategies to analyze multiple viewpoints of text, distinguish facts and opinions, and add new concepts to prior knowledge.

All readers benefit greatly from a print-rich home and classroom. For early readers, letter naming, oral language, expressive vocabulary, story recall, and even fine and gross motor skills all need to work together to build skills and confidence. Beginning readers need to master letter sound-symbol relationship as well as basic spelling rules. Older students are ready to work with multisyllabic words, Latin and Greek roots, and explore print in all subject areas. The average fifth grader may encounter more than 10,000 new words during the school year, and regularly reading helps those new words have context, meaning, and become a part of your child’s vocabulary in writing and speech.

Children of all levels benefit from being read to or from having an adult listening to them read. We hope you will build some reading routines with your child this winter that will continue. It is such a special time for bonding as well as development.

Welcoming Our New Second Grade Class

Welcome, we are excited to open a new second grade homeroom! It was great to see so many of you on campus on Friday to meet Mrs. Lintner. Remember that morning carpool begins at 7:30 on Tuesday morning. Enter the campus from Johnson Ferry and turn right, following the cars to the courtyard drop off. You may complete the Pre-Screening Protocol Link and have your “green dot” ready. We wish we could invite you in on your child’s first day, but please know that there will be a team of teachers ready to greet our new students and walk them into their new classroom. Please send a nut-free, nutritious snack and full water bottle. Lunch will be provided. Make sure all of your new uniform jackets have your child’s name clearly labeled so we can return lost items. Afternoon carpool begins at 3:00, so please enter from Johnson Ferry again, turn right, and follow the cars in front of you along the Activities Building, Mt. Vernon Hwy exit. If you don’t already have it, your carpool number will be coming your way, and we will help your child come out to the car to meet you. Please reach out to Mrs. Lintner or one of us if you have any questions. We are committed to making this a great week for our new second grade Mustangs!

Our reading lives in the Lower School have included and will continue to include many of the fantastic books that celebrate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the coming weeks. 1929 seems like a distant past to this generation, but it is critical that all ages know the history of the civil rights movement and see the connections to today’s movements. We want to set the conditions to open discussions about big ideas like fairness, courage, truth and belonging. We encourage you to explore these topics at home as well. I hope that you and your family will consider a way that you might commemorate Dr. King’s life and legacy on Monday, January 18. Have a great long weekend.

Kind regards,

Shelley Searcy
Head of Lower Campus l x2001

Molly Hudson
Director of Lower School l x4211

January 10

January 10, 2020

Dear Lower School Families,

Welcome back to school. On Monday, our teachers gathered on campus to continue making plans to engage and inspire your children for their second semester. Additionally, we participated in Professional Learning with our partners, iChange Collaborative, around how racial identity impacts teaching and learning. Wednesday’s horrific events were yet another reminder of the important work we have as a school to support all members of our community and equip our teachers to create a safe space for our students to ask questions and express their feelings. As a reminder, our mission statement requires us to prepare all students to be engaged citizen leaders, and we take this work seriously. In Dr. Jacobsen’s words, we need “to be givers rather than takers, to serve rather than be served, and to build up rather than tear down.” We will continue to support and honor each other in the Lower School this semester.

COVID Update
Upon returning from the break, the School has been monitoring the potential spread of the virus within Mount Vernon. As of Friday, January 8, the Lower Campus had 4 positive COVID cases and 9 direct exposure cases. All respective students and employees are following quarantine protocols, and all facility spaces continue to be deeply cleaned and sanitized nightly and thoroughly cleaned throughout the day. Wearing face coverings, washing hands, and maintaining physical distancing remain important protocols within each division.

Parent University

Wednesday, January 13 – Raising Awareness, While Identifying and Understanding Anxiety
8:30 – 10:00 am

Join the MV parent community to watch an online community screening of Angst, followed by a virtual discussion. Angst is an original documentary and virtual reality experience that explores anxiety, its causes, effects, and what we can do about it. The film was designed to raise awareness around anxiety by identifying and understanding the symptoms while breaking the stigma. Angst features candid interviews with kids, teens, educators, experts, parents, and Michael Phelps who suffer, or have suffered, from anxiety and what they’ve learned about it. Immediately following the screening, attendees will explore the causes of anxiety and its sociological effects with Mount Vernon’s counseling team. Resources and tools for identifying and managing anxiety will be shared. RSVP: Register to receive the Zoom link to participate.

On Tuesday morning, it was great to see our Lower Schoolers race into the building eager to see their teacher and friends to start 2021. We welcomed back many of our students who were virtual last semester, several new students, and we are preparing to open an additional second grade homeroom on January 19. There is so much to celebrate with the start of a new year. However, Wednesday reminded us that with all that is going on in our world, communication between home and school has never been more important. Please reach out to your child’s teacher, division director, counselor, or IDEA coordinator if you or your child needs additional support. We are better together.

Kind regards,

Shelley Searcy
Head of Lower Campus l x2001

Molly Hudson
Director of Lower School l x4211

January 3

January 3, 2020

Dear Lower School Families,

Happy New Year! We hope you and your family enjoyed a wonderful Christmas and happy holiday break. We are excited to return to school on Tuesday, reflect on all we accomplished in the fall semester, and set goals for more learning this semester.

Whether you are one of our Kindergarten families, or are already thinking about your child going to Middle School in August, all of our students have the opportunity to engage in literacy-rich classrooms with a strong commitment to language and literacy development. January is a great month to snuggle up with some books, so we want to share research and ideas for ways to support your child’s development at home.

Historically, from a neurological standpoint, learning to read is one of the hardest things humans will ever do! Students in Kindergarten are developing visual-motor and auditory skills to understand the role sounds play in language. First and Second Graders learn the alphabetic code, begin to read fluently, and third graders are ready to read to learn new information and develop better comprehension skills. Fourth through Eighth Graders become more efficient readers as they relate printed text to abstract ideas, discover multiple viewpoints, and add new information to previously learned knowledge. As teachers, we study the neuroscience behind how to teach reading, but as a parent, we hope you will enjoy reading to your child, with your child, and model your own reading life in front of your child during January!

Let’s get 2021 started with a ‘read more’ resolution! What books do you want to read for yourself? What children’s literature would be fun to read as a family? We are excited about supporting your child’s literacy development as we secure foundational skills and challenge each child to grow as a reader this semester.

Remember to perform health screening at home and have your green dot visible at morning carpool. We’ll see you on Tuesday, running a regular schedule.

Kind regards,

Shelley Searcy
Head of Lower Campus l x2001

Molly Hudson
Director of Lower School l x4211

December 13: Week 19 Logistics

December 13, 2020

Dear Lower School Families,

Lots of great learning happened in the Lower School last week. Each grade level is in the middle of an inquiry-based learning unit integrating the disciplines of math, literacy, science, social studies, and the arts into a real-world challenge based on the interest of the children or current events.

  • Kindergarten is exploring the role of traditions, holidays, and symbols in establishing cultural identity and unity.
  • First graders have enjoyed learning about Indigenous people and are looking forward to exercising their communicator mindset to conduct an interview with an Atlanta Historian on Monday.
  • Second graders are asking, “How might we investigate roles and responsibilities of an Engaged Citizen Leader?” They are discovering the three roles of the three branches of government by creating a new policy to be implemented in the Lower School.
  • Third graders are in the final stages of their Virtual Age of Exploration Museum project. They have been building artifacts, writing and recording a museum pitch, collaborating to construct a virtual museum, and are preparing to present this museum for our community to enjoy.
  • Things are getting heated in fourth grade as students discuss the events that escalated tensions between colonists and Great Britain. Integrating lessons of perspective taking, persuasive writing, and American history, it will be fun to see where the children take this project.
  • Fifth graders are asking a hard question, “How might we propagate impartiality with citizen’s voting rights for our generation and those who follow?” They are researching topics about voting rights and creating artifacts and essays to be shared with students at school and families at home.

In addition to the amazing project work that is going on, fourth and fifth graders completed the ERB Milestones assessment last week. Make-up testing will be offered next week. The children are engaged in some amazing thinking, research, collaboration, and presentation for this real world, relevant work. Additionally, however, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and there is a definite spirit of joy and wonder in the air.

Learn Serve Give: MVCares – Holiday Hunger Relief
During these challenging times – especially during the holidays – communities in and around Atlanta have tangible needs for relief. Join our Mount Vernon community as we participate in hands-on and/or hands-off service. As a way to give back and share the well, Mount Vernon’s MVCares volunteer group has listed a variety of service opportunities throughout this season, centered around Hunger Relief. With so many ways to serve, every family can go out on their own to find a path to fit their schedule, availability, and level of comfort to make an immediate impact on children, families, and the elderly.

Thursday, December 17
Holiday Spirit Day: Holiday top with uniform bottoms or jeans, Holiday hat, Holiday socks

Friday, December 18
No School for students; Staff Work Day

We have planned holiday fun for all Lower School students next week. We hope you will help your child participate in festive dress on Thursday and know that there will be some cocoa, carols, games, crafts, special music, and Christmas kindness planned. In addition to celebrating Christmas, we also want to also be inclusive of different faiths in our classrooms, so we will explore a variety of winter holidays. Please let your teacher know if you are willing to share your traditions with the class.

Kind regards,

Shelley Searcy
Head of Lower Campus l x2001

Molly Hudson
Director of Lower School l x4211

December 6: Week 18 Logistics

December 6, 2020

Dear Lower School Families,

December is here and so is the cold! Outside, however, continues to be the safest place for us to learn, play, snack, and dine, so please make sure your child has the appropriate clothing to be outdoors. Also, we strongly encourage you to label, label, label everything, so we can return found items to whom they belong.

Our fourth and fifth grade students worked with Brandi Hoyos, Director of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Action, and Elisse Hayes, Dean of Student and Spiritual Life and Operations earlier this semester to understand Mount Vernon’s Expressions, Language, and Acts of Racism Policy. In December, Taryn Rumph, Lower School Learning Coach and IDEA Coordinator, will be working with our K-3 students to explore this policy through an approach centered on what it means to be an Upstander. Students will be learning and practicing norms like:

  • Listen with Your Heart
  • Don’t Step on Other’s Words
  • Be an Upstander

The Christmas season is a wonderful time to remind children how special each and to spread love and joy to others. We encourage you to use these norms at home as well.

Learn Serve Give: MVCares – Holiday Hunger Relief
During these challenging times – especially during the holidays – communities in and around Atlanta have tangible needs for relief. Join our Mount Vernon community as we participate in hands-on and/or hands-off service. As a way to give back and share the well, Mount Vernon’s MVCares volunteer group has listed a variety of service opportunities throughout this season, centered around Hunger Relief. With so many ways to serve, every family can go out on their own to find a path to fit their schedule, availability, and level of comfort to make an immediate impact on children, families, and the elderly.

December 8 & 10, ERB Standardized Testing
Mount Vernon will continue to partner with the Educational Records Bureau (ERB) for standardized testing using ERB’s Milestones, a condensed version of the CTP-Online. Students in grades 4 and 5 will take the Math assessment on Tuesday, December 8, and the Reading Comprehension assessment on Thursday, December 10. Both assessments will take place first thing in the morning. Students approved for school accommodations will have access to extended time for their assessments.

Students participating in virtual learning during the December testing window will test during the first three weeks of January. More information will be provided by divisional teams after students return on January 5.

December 9, Late Start
Periodically, Mount Vernon has a late start, carved out for faculty/staff to participate in cross-divisional professional learning workshops prior to students arriving on campus. On these select days, carpool will begin at 9:10 on both campuses and the school day will start at 9:30. Childcare will not be available before carpool on either campus.

Thank you for all you did over the Thanksgiving holiday to keep your family safe so that we can all be back at school this week. It is a magical time of the year to be together, and we are grateful.

Kind regards,

Shelley Searcy
Head of Lower Campus l x2001

Molly Hudson
Director of Lower School l x4211

November 29: Week 17 Logistics

November 29, 2020

Dear Lower School Families,

Thank you all for answering Dr. Jacobsen’s request to send messages of gratitude to our teachers. The encouraging emails, handwritten notes, and kid-created cards filled their cups. The smiles behind their masks were big and bold as they left for Thanksgiving Break.

In addition to feeling appreciated, Lower School teachers were inspired by rich professional learning before we departed for the break. Julie Lythcott-Haims, author, speaker, and activist, shared incredible stories of her courageous journey in life. We recognize that our faculty and students of color may have similar experiences, and we are proud to be a part of a school that is sharing these stories and inspiring us to be curious about our own identities, learn about the history of all people, and be a part of systemic change. Thank you to those who were able to participate in her parent session; we look forward to partnering with all of you as we continue this important work.

MV Fund
Mount Vernon’s Annual Fund — the MV Fund — is the School’s primary fundraiser closing the gap between tuition and the extra resources that are essential to the Mount Vernon education and experience. The School is grateful to those who have already given or pledged. We ask all families to please consider making a tax-deductible gift to the MV Fund. MV Fund FAQ

We hope that your family enjoyed a special Thanksgiving, recognizing that you may not have been able to gather and celebrate in traditional ways. Even still, the rest was much needed, and now we are ready to return to school to engage in our inquiry-based learning projects and celebrate the season.

Kind regards,

Shelley Searcy
Head of Lower Campus l x2001

Molly Hudson
Director of Lower School l x4211

November 15: Week 15 Logistics

November 15, 2020

Dear Lower School Families,

We hope you have made plans to attend our Parent University special topics series, “Talking to Your Kids about Race and Racism” next week as a great opportunity to support our strong commitment to IDEA work. I am proud to be part of a community that fosters an anti-bias community prioritizing identity, diversity, equity, and action (see below).

Modification to Pre-Screening Protocol
Based on the colder temperatures during carpool, achieving accurate temperature readings have been challenging and the process has taken longer than necessary. Since August, the School has screened student temperatures, and we have not identified any cases of rising temperatures (>100.4 degrees) during the past three months. Beginning Monday, November 9 during carpool only, the pre-screening protocol will include the following question, “Has your child(ren) experienced a 100.4 degree temperature or greater in the previous 24 hours?”

November 16-22 — Online Scholastic Book Fair
Shop Mount Vernon’s online Scholastic Book Fair to find books for any age level at a discounted price. A portion of every sale supports the Mount Vernon School.

Tuesday, November 17 — Parent University: Talking to Your Kids About Race and Racism
The next Parent University in the 2020-21 Special Topics Series – Talking to Your Kids about Race and Racism – will be held on Tuesday, November 17 from 7:00-8:30 pm, hosted by Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School, The Galloway School, and The Mount Vernon School. These three school communities will come together on one special night for a virtual learning experience with Julie Lythcott-Haims. Discussing “Talking to Your Kids about Race and Racism,” Julie draws upon her own experiences as a biracial woman to inform and illustrate raising her own children in different ways. Believing in humans and deeply interested in what gets in our way, Julie will spend the evening with parents, engaging in courageous conversations about race and racism while removing the stigma of saying the wrong thing or not having the right answers. Julie Lythcott-Haims is a New York Times best-selling author, former Stanford University Dean, and former corporate lawyer with a JD from Harvard Law. Register Here

Friday, November 20 — Early Release
Thanksgiving break will begin on Friday, November 20, with an early release. Students in Preschool-Grade 1 will be dismissed at 11:15 (their older siblings in Grades 2-5 will join them at carpool), Grades 2-5 will be dismissed at 11:30. The School will be closed through Friday, November 27.

MV Fund
Mount Vernon’s Annual Fund — the MV Fund — is the School’s primary fundraiser closing the gap between tuition and the extra resources that are essential to the Mount Vernon education and experience. During this season of Thanksgiving, the School is grateful to those who have already given or pledged. We ask all families to please consider making a tax-deductible gift to the MV Fund. MV Fund FAQ

Thank you for your continued compliance to the School’s health and well-being protocols. As you make plans for your family’s Thanksgiving break, we hope you will continue to be committed in keeping your family safe. We recognize the cold and flu season plus holiday travels will require an even higher level of diligence. Meanwhile, we are looking forward to exploring gratitude with your children this week and finding ways to show appreciation for all that we have to be grateful for.

Kind regards,

Shelley Searcy
Head of Lower Campus l x2001

Molly Hudson
Director of Lower School l x4211

November 8: Week 14 Logistics

November 8, 2020

Dear Lower School Families,

Election week has come and gone, but we hope that the lessons we taught, conversations we facilitated, and experiences we created for Lower School students will have a big impact on their role as engaged citizen leaders in our local, national, and global world. The essential question our children heard throughout the week states, how might we collaborate and listen to others’ ideas when we think differently? Our learners heard messages encouraging them to make our community a safe space for conversation, to challenge an idea and not a person, and to remember that we are one school community.

Modification to Pre-Screening Protocol
Based on the colder temperatures during carpool, achieving accurate temperature readings have been challenging and the process has taken longer than necessary. Since August, the School has screened student temperatures, and we have not identified any cases of rising temperatures (>100.4 degrees) during the past three months. Beginning Monday, November 9 during carpool only, the pre-screening protocol will include the following question, “Has your child(ren) experienced a 100.4 degree temperature or greater in the previous 24 hours?”

November 9-22 — Online Scholastic Book Fair
Shop Mount Vernon’s online Scholastic Book Fair to find books for any age level at a discounted price. A portion of every sale supports the Mount Vernon School.

Tuesday, November 17 — Parent University: Talking to Your Kids About Race and Racism
The next Parent University in the 2020-21 Special Topics Series – Talking to Your Kids about Race and Racism – will be held on Tuesday, November 17 from 7:15-8:30 pm, hosted by Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School, The Galloway School, and The Mount Vernon School. These three school communities will come together on one special night for a virtual learning experience with Julie Lythcott-Haims. Discussing “Talking to Your Kids about Race and Racism,” Julie draws upon her own experiences as a biracial woman to inform and illustrate raising her own children in different ways. Believing in humans and deeply interested in what gets in our way, Julie will spend the evening with parents, engaging in courageous conversations about race and racism while removing the stigma of saying the wrong thing or not having the right answers. Julie Lythcott-Haims is a New York Times best-selling author, former Stanford University Dean, and former corporate lawyer with a JD from Harvard Law. Register Here

Friday, November 20 — Early Release
Thanksgiving break will begin on Friday, November 20, with an early release. Students in Preschool-Grade 1 will be dismissed at 11:15 (their older siblings in Grades 2-5 will join them at carpool), Grades 2-5 will be dismissed at 11:30. The School will be closed through Friday, November 27.

Monday, November 30 — Students and Faculty Return

Booster Club and Friends of the Arts
Show your support for Arts and Athletics by displaying a respective sticker once you make a tax-deductible donation to either group. Like most things these days, the Booster Club and Friends of the Arts look a little different this year. To make it easier on our Mount Vernon families, the Booster Club and Friends of the Arts are waving all membership fees for the 20-21 school year, and asking our community to make a tax-deductible donation of any amount to support Athletics through the Booster Club and Arts through the Friends of the Arts.

Support Friends of the Arts
Support Booster Club

We hope you will consider attending our November 17 Parent University as a great opportunity to support our strong commitment to IDEA work. Teachers will also participate in an educator-focused workshop later that afternoon. It is exciting to be part of a community that promotes the creation of safe places for courageous conversations where learners can explore their role in prioritizing identity, diversity, equity, and action. Our learners are taking this work to heart, as shown by a first-grader who wondered about being an engaged citizen leader, “What else can I do?”

Kind regards,

Shelley Searcy
Head of Lower Campus l x2001

Molly Hudson
Director of Lower School l x4211

November 1: Week 13 Logistics

November 1, 2020

Dear Lower School Families,

It’s already November! I hope you remembered to set your clocks back, plan to vote, and are ready to enter a season of thanksgiving. I am grateful that we are still learning on campus, students are laughing, and teachers are inspiring ethical decision makers to be engaged citizen leaders.

Last week was filled with many amazing lessons to help our children consider their rights and responsibilities as US citizens. I want to highlight some ways they are asking big questions and collaborating across grade levels and with Mount Vernon Experts.

  • Kindergarten considers, “What does it mean to be fair?”
  • First and Second Graders interviewed the assistant mayor of Clearwater, FL to learn about the election process from the candidate’s point of view while exploring how to be an engaged citizen leaders
  • Third Graders are exploring how cultures are effective by exploration and influence from other cultures.
  • Fourth Graders are collecting data to answer the question, “Who votes?”
  • Fifth Graders are wrapping up an economics and entrepreneurship unit on leadership in business before launching their inquiry-based learning unit investigating citizenship and voting rights.

Monday, November 2 — Halloween Spirit Day
Students in Lower School can wear Halloween themed or orange tops with uniform bottoms or jeans- no costume masks, weapons or accessories.

Tuesday, November 3 — Early Release
The School will run a half-day schedule on November 3, Election Day, in order to provide faculty and staff ample opportunity to vote. Students in Preschool-Grade 1 will be dismissed at 11:15 (their older siblings in Grades 2-5 will join them at carpool), Grades 2-5 will be dismissed at 11:30.

Thursday, November 5 — Student Portrait Retakes
A student portrait retake/makeup day is scheduled for Thursday, November 5. Please complete this form prior to November 3 if your student would like to retake their photo. Lower School students who were absent on the original portrait day do not need to complete the form. A list of absent students has been provided to the photographer. The dress uniform should be worn for portraits.

November 9-22 — Online Scholastic Book Fair
Shop Mount Vernon’s online Scholastic Book Fair to find books for any age level at a discounted price. A portion of every sale supports the Mount Vernon School.

Tuesday, November 17 — Parent University: Talking to Your Kids About Race and Racism
The next Parent University in the 2020-21 Special Topics Series – Talking to Your Kids about Race and Racism – will be held on Tuesday, November 17 from 7:15-8:30 pm, hosted by Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School, The Galloway School, and The Mount Vernon School. These three school communities will come together on one special night for a virtual learning experience with Julie Lythcott-Haims. Discussing “Talking to Your Kids about Race and Racism,” Julie draws upon her own experiences as a biracial woman to inform and illustrate raising her own children in different ways. Believing in humans and deeply interested in what gets in our way, Julie will spend the evening with parents, engaging in courageous conversations about race and racism while removing the stigma of saying the wrong thing or not having the right answers. Julie Lythcott-Haims is a New York Times best-selling author, former Stanford University Dean, and former corporate lawyer with a JD from Harvard Law. Register Here

Friday, November 20 — Early Release
Thanksgiving break will begin on Friday, November 20, with an early release. Students in Preschool-Grade 1 will be dismissed at 11:15 (their older siblings in Grades 2-5 will join them at carpool), Grades 2-5 will be dismissed at 11:30. The School will be closed through Friday, November 27.

Monday, November 30 — Students and Faculty Return

Booster Club and Friends of the Arts
Show your support for Arts and Athletics by displaying a respective sticker once you make a tax-deductible donation to either group. Like most things these days, the Booster Club and Friends of the Arts look a little different this year. To make it easier on our Mount Vernon families, the Booster Club and Friends of the Arts are waving all membership fees for the 20-21 school year, and asking our community to make a tax-deductible donation of any amount to support Athletics through the Booster Club and Arts through the Friends of the Arts.
Support Friends of the Arts
Support Booster Club

I hope you and your family stayed safe and enjoyed this Halloween weekend. We are excited to continue the Halloween fun in Lower School on Monday then begin to focus on the season of gratitude. We have so much to be thankful for this year.

Kind regards,

Shelley Searcy
Head of Lower Campus l x2001

Molly Hudson
Director of Lower School l x4211

October 25: Week 12 Logistics

October 25, 2020

Dear Lower School Families,

Our teachers really enjoyed connecting with families for conferences. They worked hard to collaborate with your child to present some glows and grows from the school year so far, as well as set some goals for the second trimester. We hope you saw evidence of your child’s learning through the work samples and stories teachers shared. Your partnership is so important to us, especially in this year when you cannot be as present on campus as we are used to. Thank you for carving out time this week to connect with us.

Among many other exciting units launched across the Lower School last week, fifth grade students began learning the history of voting in the United States, both the rights and responsibilities as well as the discrimination and injustices. Introducing concepts of slavery, poll taxes, and mobs raises hard questions from our students; however, I am inspired by their empathetic concern and eagerness to learn more about the our country’s history. Other grade levels will continue to explore voting in America over the next couple of weeks through Lillian’s perspective in the book Lillian’s Right to Vote. Please note the Parent University opportunity offered this week. We hope you will make plans to attend.

Extended Play
Extended Play is currently being offered to students until 5:00 from Monday through Thursday. Beginning the week of November 2, Fridays will be included.

Wednesday, October 28 — Parent University Special Topics Series

Resilience and the Power of Inclusion and Connection to End Bullying, 8:30 – 10:00 am
Join the MV parent community to watch an online community screening of The Upstanders, followed by a virtual panel discussion. The Upstanders is a documentary film about resilience and the power of inclusion and connection to end bullying. This independent film explores various types of bullying and the brain science behind it all. The film explores the need for inclusive behaviors and calls for a change in how we act as humans to stand up and make a difference together to create systemic change. Led by a panel of experts including Mount Vernon’s Counseling Team, attendees will explore inclusive behaviors that can strengthen a community where all members feel valued and safe. RSVP: Register to receive the Zoom link to participate.

Thursday, October 29 — Halloween Spirit Day
Students in Lower School can wear Halloween themed or orange tops with uniform bottoms or jeans- no costume masks, weapons or accessories.

End of Trimester 1
The first trimester ends on October 29, and Trimester 1 Progress Reports will be available on Wednesday, November 5. The Lower School standards-based progress report is one component of our comprehensive and balanced assessment system. It is designed to give you a picture of your child’s academic skills, work habits, and the dispositions of the Mount Vernon Mind.

Students’ progress on the Mount Vernon Mindsets is reported using the following indicators:

  • EE Exceeds Current Expectations
  • ME Meets Current Expectations
  • AE Approaching Current Expectations
  • LE Lack of Evidence

Friday, October 30 — No School for Students

Monday, November 2 — Full 5-Day Schedule Begins
Beginning Monday, November 2, the School will continue to remain open five days a week, with students attending school on Fridays through their full-day dismissal time.

Tuesday, November 3 — Early Release
The School will run a half-day schedule on November 3, Election Day, in order to provide faculty and staff ample opportunity to vote during COVID constraints. Students in Preschool – Grade 1 will be dismissed at 11:15 (their older siblings in Grades 2-5 will join them at carpool), Grades 2-5 will be dismissed at 11:30.

Much like the local, national, and global communities to which your children will one day live, work, and serve, the classroom community is one of the first places where they share a set of similar experiences and can work together for the common good. We aim to help each child recognize and appreciate the diverse contributions of others and feel a sense of belonging as a citizen in the class.

Kind regards,

Shelley Searcy
Head of Lower Campus l x2001

Molly Hudson
Director of Lower School l x4211

October 18: Week 11 Logistics

October 18, 2020

Dear Lower School Families,

Has your family found an opportunity to participate in a democratic process like a debate, a vote, or a discussion?

Research tells us that children see more, hear more, and experience more fully than adults. Their brains are in the process of making connections among its many multisensory inputs. Children continually find ways to look at things from different viewpoints. While children often take on the political beliefs of their parents, our goal at school is to develop an engaged citizen leader who votes and can speak intelligently about his or her opinion while also showing respect for a different viewpoint.

Lower School students are ready to learn the history of voting in the United States, and we want to be intentional to tell this story from multiple perspectives, especially celebrating the Voting Rights Act of 1965. We are dedicated to setting the conditions, explicitly teaching, and creating experiences to help children consider multiple viewpoints, debate respectfully, and ask questions to learn more. This election season we want to give students the intellectual freedom to express ideas, ask hard questions, and engage with developmentally appropriate issues, respectfully. We learn lots from seeing the world through a child’s point of view, and we look forward to the learning that will ensue in the next few weeks.

Extended Play
Extended Play is currently being offered to students until 5:00 from Monday through Thursday. Beginning the week of November 2, Fridays will be included.

Wednesday, October 28 — Parent University Special Topics Series

Resilience and the Power of Inclusion and Connection to End Bullying, 8:30-10:00 am
Join the MV parent community to watch an online community screening of The Upstanders, followed by a virtual panel discussion. The Upstanders is a documentary film about resilience and the power of inclusion and connection to end bullying. This independent film explores various types of bullying and the brain science behind it all. The film explores the need for inclusive behaviors and calls for a change in how we act as humans to stand up and make a difference together to create systemic change. Led by a panel of experts including Mount Vernon’s Counseling Team, attendees will explore inclusive behaviors that can strengthen a community where all members feel valued and safe. RSVP: Register to receive the Zoom link to participate.

Thursday, October 29 — End of Trimester 1

The first trimester ends on October 29, and Trimester 1 Progress Reports will be available on Wednesday, November 5. The Lower School standards-based progress report is one component of our comprehensive and balanced assessment system. It is designed to give you a picture of your child’s academic skills, work habits, and the dispositions of the Mount Vernon Mind. Students’ progress on the Mount Vernon Mindsets is reported using the following indicators:

  • EE Exceeds Current Expectations
  • ME Meets Current Expectations
  • AE Approaching Current Expectations
  • LE Lack of Evidence

Friday, October 30 — No School for Students

Monday, November 2 — Full 5-Day Schedule Begins
Beginning Monday, November 2, the School will continue to remain open five days a week, with students attending school on Fridays through their full-day dismissal time.

Tuesday, November 3 — Early Release
The School will run a half-day schedule on November 3, Election Day, in order to provide faculty and staff ample opportunity to vote during COVID constraints. Students in Preschool – Grade 1 will be dismissed at 11:15 (their older siblings in Grades 2-5 will join them at carpool), Grades 2-5 will be dismissed at 11:30.

It was fun to return to school last week with tacky Tuesday, wild hair, and strong Mustang Spirit! We enjoyed hearing your children share stories of Fall Break adventures, and teachers continue to use their life experiences to design meaningful and engaging lessons in the classroom.

Kind regards,

Shelley Searcy
Head of Lower Campus l x2001

Molly Hudson
Director of Lower School l x4211

October 11: Week 10 Logistics

October 11, 2020

Dear Lower School Families,

This past week was a special one. Our School community honored the life and impact of Coach Hill. Coach Hill taught us how to be a good person by putting others first, and we will hold his memory in our hearts forever. Additionally, our Lower Schoolers are finding creative and safe ways for cross grade-level collaborations and virtual mystery readers. We are grateful for another rich week of learning and discovery in the Lower School.

One important component of each student’s learning this fall will focus on how to participate completely in a democratic society as engaged citizen leaders. We are committed to providing children opportunities to investigate events that deepen their knowledge of others who take care of our community in a variety of ways. We will also learn to value differences within our community. Finally, we will practice the skills associated with a democratic society like considering multiple perspectives, debate, casting a vote, and asking in-depth questions to better understand an issue or topic.

Lower School Schedule — Through the end of October 

The Lower School is running a five-day schedule — four full days with half-day Fridays through October. All students in K-5 will attend school from 8:00-3:00 Monday through Thursday and 8:00-11:15 or 11:30 on Fridays.

Tuesday, October 13 — Extended Play Begins
Beginning Tuesday, October 13, Extended Play will be offered to students until 5:00. Extended Play will take place Monday through Thursday (no Extended Play on Fridays except children of staff, until 12:30).

October 13-16 — Homecoming Week
In celebration of Homecoming week, students have the opportunity to show their spirit in different ways each day. If a student does not want to participate with each theme, they may wear their everyday uniform.

  • Tuesday: Tacky Tuesday (wear mismatched clothing, fun patterns, turn things inside out or backwards)
  • Wednesday: Crazy Hair/Hat Day (everyday uniform)
  • Thursday: Jersey Day (wear your favorite team’s jersey or tshirt with uniform bottoms)
  • Friday: Spirit Day

Friday, October 16 — Parents Prayer Group
9:00 – 10:00 am via Zoom
All MV parents, grandparents, and caregivers are invited to join together once a month to cultivate Christian values defined as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. In addition to reflecting on a relevant and timely devotion at each meeting, this group will lift up our Mount Vernon community up in prayer, praying for different MV students, faculty, and staff members by name. All are welcome to listen, reflect, pray silently with us, or volunteer to lead a prayer. To join the Parents Prayer Bloomz Group, enter Bloomz code: 9W7UBU after clicking on “+class/group” at the bottom of your profile page within the Bloomz app.

Friday, October 23 — Parent Conference Day
Friday, October 23 is Fall Parent Conference Day. There will be no school for Lower School students on this day. Please sign up through your homeroom teacher’s Seesaw page on Thursday, October 8. We value the teacher-parent partnership to help each child grow and develop during these foundational years. Teachers are excited to share their observations of your child’s progress so far this year to further build our home-school partnership.

Wednesday, October 28 — Parent University: Live Screening of The Upstanders, followed by an online panel discussion. Join our MV Community for a live webinar screening of The Upstanders, a documentary about resilience and the power of inclusion and connection to end bullying. This independent film explores various types of bullying and the brain science behind it all. The film explores the need for inclusive behaviors and calls for a change in how we act as humans to stand up and make a difference together to create systemic change. Led by a panel of experts including Mount Vernon’s Counseling Team, attendees will explore inclusive behaviors that can strengthen a community where all members feel valued and safe. More details to come.

Thursday, October 29 — End of Trimester 1
The first trimester ends on October 29, and Trimester 1 Progress Reports will be available on Wednesday, November 5. The Lower School standards-based progress report is one component of our comprehensive and balanced assessment system. It is designed to give you a picture of your child’s academic skills, work habits, and the dispositions of the Mount Vernon Mind.

Students’ progress on the Mount Vernon Mindsets is reported using the following indicators:
EE Exceeds Current Expectations
ME Meets Current Expectations
AE Approaching Current Expectations
LE Lack of Evidence

Friday, October 30 — No School for Students

IDEA Update
As a part of the Next 100 Days Action Steps for IDEA, the School launched an internal search to identify four inclusion, diversity, equity, and action coordinators, representing each of the four divisions to increase representation for curricular and instructional advancement within the School as well as to provide greater support for families of color. After a thorough and thoughtful process, we are excited and honored to announce the selection of Taryn Rumph as the Lower School IDEA Coordinator.

I hope your family had a safe and relaxing Fall Break. We are excited to return to school with some Mustang Pride this week. We encourage you to participate in our Lower Campus Homecoming Spirit Dress-Up Days!

Kind regards,

Shelley Searcy
Head of Lower Campus l x2001

Molly Hudson
Director of Lower School l x4211

October 4: Week 9 Logistics

October 4, 2020

Dear Lower School Families,

Can you believe that October is already here? We spent August transitioning back to school and learning new routines. September was filled with review, observations, and assessments to identify the gaps and gains from quarantine. This month will offer some of the best learning experiences for your children. We are now focused on differentiated small group instruction for literacy and math. Science and Social Studies units have been launched, and teachers are even finding creative ways to help children engage across classrooms and grade levels without breaking bubbles. 

Lower School Schedule — Through the end of October
The Lower School is running a five-day schedule — four full days with half-day Fridays through October. All students in K-5 will attend school from 8:00-3:00 Monday through Thursday and 8:00-11:15 or 11:30 on Fridays (see below).

  • Friday dismissal for Kindergarten and Grade 1 is 11:15 (students will be joined by their older siblings who are in Grades 2-5)
  • Friday dismissal for Grades 2 – 5 is 11:30 (students with siblings in PS – Grade 1 will join their younger sibling at 11:15)

Tuesday, October 6 — Student Portraits
Lower Campus student portraits will be taken on Tuesday, October 6. Classes will travel together to the Lower Campus Gym at their scheduled time between 8:30 and 12:30. Students are asked to wear the Dress uniform.

Wednesday, October 7 — Everyday Uniform

Thursday, October 8 — Spirit Day

October 9-12 — Fall Break
The School will be closed on Friday, October 9 and Monday, October 12 for Fall Break.

Tuesday, October 13 — Extended Play Begins

Beginning Tuesday, October 13, Extended Play will be offered to students until 5:00. Extended Play will take place Monday through Thursday (no Extended Play on Fridays except children of staff, until 12:30). 

October 13-16 — Homecoming Week
In celebration of Homecoming week, students have the opportunity to show their spirit in different ways each day. If a student does not want to participate with each theme, they may wear their everyday uniform.

  • Tuesday: Tacky Tuesday (wear mismatched clothing, fun patterns, turn things inside out or backwards)
  • Wednesday: Crazy Hair/Hat Day (everyday uniform)
  • Thursday: Jersey Day (wear your favorite team’s jersey or tshirt with uniform bottoms)
  • Friday: Spirit Day

Friday, October 16 — Parents Prayer Group
9:00 – 10:00 am via Zoom
All MV parents, grandparents, and caregivers are invited to join together once a month to cultivate Christian values defined as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. In addition to reflecting on a relevant and timely devotion at each meeting, this group will lift up our Mount Vernon community up in prayer, praying for different MV students, faculty, and staff members by name. All are welcome to listen, reflect, pray silently with us, or volunteer to lead a prayer. To join the Parents Prayer Bloomz Group, enter Bloomz code: 9W7UBU after clicking on “+class/group” at the bottom of your profile page within the Bloomz app.

Friday, October 23 — Parent Conference Day
Friday, October 23 is Fall Parent Conference Day. There will be no school for Lower School students on this day. Please sign up through your homeroom teacher’s Seesaw page on Thursday, October 8. We value the teacher-parent partnership to help each child grow and develop during these foundational years. Teachers are excited to share their observations of your child’s progress so far this year to further build our home-school partnership.

Thursday, October 29 — End of Trimester 1
The first trimester ends on October 29, and Trimester 1 Progress Reports will be available on Wednesday, November 5. The Lower School standards-based progress report is one component of our comprehensive and balanced assessment system. It is designed to give you a picture of your child’s academic skills, work habits, and the dispositions of the Mount Vernon Mind.

Students’ progress on the Mount Vernon Mindsets is reported using the following indicators:
EE Exceeds Current Expectations
ME Meets Current Expectations
AE Approaching Current Expectations
LE Lack of Evidence

Friday, October 30 — No School for Students
In August and September, we were transitioning back to school and closely observing each students’ individual strengths progress to inform the rich experiences that will unfold in October. We look forward to sharing those experiences with you through Seesaw and engaging in Parent Conferences. We thank you for your continued support and encouragement.

Kind regards,

Shelley Searcy
Head of Lower Campus l x2001

Molly Hudson
Director of Lower School l x4211

September 27: Week 8 Logistics

September 27, 2020

Dear Lower School Families,

Are you curious about what teachers do on a late start day? Every year our faculty is committed to Research, Design, and Iterate (RDI) as a dynamic learning organization to actively seek ways to grow and better our school. This year, the professional learning framework is specifically designed to advance Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Action (IDEA) at Mount Vernon. To launch the School’s RDI series for the year, the faculty and staff watched the documentary, American Promise and discussed questions such as:

  • Have you ever experienced a child expressing what you suspected might be internalized racism?
  • How can we affirm and encourage our marginalized students as they explore their racial identities?
  • What can teachers do to understand students from different backgrounds more thoroughly in order to best advocate for them?
  • What do you think makes children want to adjust their behavior to fit in with others?
  • How can adults, specifically parents and teachers, lessen children’s fears?

It was a rich morning of development for our Lower School team, and we look forward to applying our learning to make an impact on the Lower School experience.

Lower School Schedule — Through the end of October

The Lower School is running a five-day schedule — four full days with half-day Fridays through October. All students in K-5 will attend school from 8:00-3:00 Monday through Thursday and 8:00-11:15 or 11:30 on Fridays (see below).

  • Friday dismissal for Kindergarten and Grade 1 is 11:15 (students will be joined by their older siblings who are in Grades 2-5)
  • Friday dismissal for Grades 2 – 5 is 11:30 (students with siblings in PS – Grade 1 will join their younger sibling at 11:15)

Student Portraits
Lower Campus student portraits will be taken on Tuesday, October 6. Classes will travel together to the Lower Campus Gym at their scheduled time between 8:30 and 12:30. Students are asked to wear the Dress uniform.

Fall Break
The School will be closed on Friday, October 9 and Monday, October 12 for Fall Break.

Extended Play
Beginning Tuesday, October 13, Extended Play will be offered to students until 5:00. Extended Play will take place Monday-Thursday (no Extended Play on Fridays except children of staff, until 12:30). Information about Extended Play sign-up and fees will be shared with families on Monday, September 28.

Kind regards,

Shelley Searcy
Head of Lower Campus l x2001

Molly Hudson
Director of Lower School l x4211

September 20: Week 7 Logistics

September 20, 2020

Dear Lower School Families,

Though rainy, it was another great week in our Mount Vernon Lower School. Teachers stepped up and pitched in, bringing light to your children on Thursday morning when we briefly lost power. From Kindergarten hallway letter aerobics to fourth graders writing and filming scary movies on their iPads, our hallways were filled with adventures. The creative thinking and solution skills we have on our team are to be celebrated and commended.

Lower School Schedule — Through the end of October

The Lower School is running a five-day schedule — four full days with half-day Fridays through October. All students in K-5 will attend school from 8:00-3:00 Monday through Thursday and 8:00-11:15 or 11:30 on Fridays (see below).

  • Friday dismissal for Kindergarten and Grade 1 is 11:15 (students will be joined by their older siblings who are in Grades 2-5)
  • Friday dismissal for Grades 2 – 5 is 11:30 (students with siblings in PS – Grade 1 will join their younger sibling at 11:15)
  • Extended Play will not be offered through, with the exception of faculty/staff children until 4:30 (12:30 on Fridays).

September 23, Late Start
Periodically, Mount Vernon has a late start, carved out for faculty/staff to participate in cross-divisional professional learning workshops prior to students arriving on campus. On these select days, carpool will begin at 9:10 on both campuses and the school day will start at 9:30. Childcare will not be available before carpool on either campus. Save the date for the first late start of the year, September 23.

Fall Break
The School will be closed on Friday, October 9 and Monday, October 12 for Fall Break.

Parent University: Mentoring and Monitoring Children’s Online Presence (Recap)
For over four years, Mount Vernon has partnered with Bark Technologies to provide families with the tools they need to raise children in the digital age. Bark’s comprehensive service lets parents monitor content, manage screen time, and filter websites to get peace of mind while their children are online. Recently, the School hosted a Virtual Parent University Webinar: Mentoring and Monitoring Children’s Online Presence. View the recorded session.

We are looking forward to the rich learning experiences ahead in the next six weeks of school. Our slow start, rich review, and formative assessments from the start of school have positioned us to launch units of study that will help each child progress on his or her learning journey, reach personal goals, and most importantly, love learning.

Kind regards,

Shelley Searcy
Head of Lower Campus l x2001

Molly Hudson
Director of Lower School l x4211

September 13: Week 6 Logistics

September 13, 2020

Dear Lower School Families,

We did it! Lower School students were on campus every day last week. We navigated hallways, restrooms, and lunch procedures with success. We want to celebrate this and credit our intentional slow start, your incredible kids, and our dedicated teachers.

Lower School Schedule — Through the end of October

The Lower School is running a five-day schedule — four full days with half-day Fridays through October. All students in K-5 will attend school from 8:00-3:00 Monday through Thursday and 8:00-11:15 or 11:30 on Fridays (see below).

  • Friday dismissal for Kindergarten and Grade 1 is 11:15 (students will be joined by their older siblings who are in Grades 2-5)
  • Friday dismissal for Grades 2 – 5 is 11:30 (students with siblings in PS – Grade 1 will join their younger sibling at 11:15)
  • Extended Play will not be offered through, with the exception of faculty/staff children until 4:30 (12:30 on Fridays).

September 23, Late Start
Periodically, Mount Vernon has a late start, carved out for faculty/staff to participate in cross-divisional professional learning workshops prior to students arriving on campus. On these select days, carpool will begin at 9:10 on both campuses and the school day will start at 9:30. Childcare will not be available before carpool on either campus. Save the date for the first late start of the year, September 23.

We hope you all had the opportunity to view your homeroom teacher’s Curriculum Morning Presentation (through Seesaw) to understand more about the big ideas of the year. Continue to check Seesaw weekly to see your child’s work and teacher announcements.

Kind regards,

Shelley Searcy
Head of Lower Campus l x2001

Molly Hudson
Director of Lower School l x4211

September 6: Prescreening Protocol

September 6, 2020

Dear Lower School Families,

We appreciate your participation in Parent-Share Conferences this past week. Knowing that relationships are foundational to learning, our teachers really enjoyed the opportunity to to connect with you, learn more about your family and your goals for your child this year.

Our second week of virtual learning days were a success as numbers continued to be low on campus while the virtual learning attendance and engagement was high. Your children explored their own identity and learned more about the identity of their classmates. We read stories to build empathy and understanding, unpacked our own names, and discussed ways to live out the IDEA statement at school. We discovered the importance of learning to pronounce everyone’s names correctly, not to tease each other’s differences, and to stand up for ourselves and others if needed. We had rich discussions and impactful learning. I encourage you to continue these discussions at home.

New COVID Pre-Screening Process — Beginning September 8

Modifying our process to increase the speed of carpool, utilize the Pre-Screening Protocol Link before arriving at the School each day. As you arrive, visibly display your smartphone to School officials indicating approval to enter the School for the day. Temperatures will continue to be taken at the School during carpool.

Note: If you have more than one student, you will be able to enter multiple names, regardless of division/campus. If you carpool with another family, non-family members will go through the current pre-screening process. Upper School student drivers and students riding bikes to the School will adhere to the current pre-screening process at the School. Check out a brief Pre-Screening video to assist you.

Lower School Schedule — Beginning September 8
The Lower School will return to a five-day schedule — four full days with half-day Fridays through September and possibly October. Beginning Tuesday, September 8, all students in K-5 will attend school from 8:00 – 3:00 (carpool begins at 7:30) with Friday dismissal Kindergarten and Grade 1 at 11:15 and Grades 2 – 5 at 11:30. Extended Play will not be offered in September, with the exception of faculty/staff children until 4:30 (12:30 on Fridays).

Friday Half-Days
Dismissal on Friday half-days through September:
Preschool – Grade 1 at 11:15 (students will be joined by their older siblings who are in Grades 2-5)
Grades 2 – 5 at 11:30 (students with siblings in PS – Grade 1 will join their younger sibling at 11:15)

Commemorating September 11
Traditionally, each year the School honors family members and the thousands of lives lost during the tragic day of September 11, 2001. Unfortunately, COVID has had an impact on Mount Vernon’s traditional plans, and as a result will dedicate Chapel on September 11 to commemorate in a different way. May we remember the remarkable heroes and countless people who responded to the terrible tragedy with hope, selflessness, compassion, and inspiration.

September 23, Late Start
Periodically, Mount Vernon has a late start, carved out for faculty/staff to participate in cross-divisional professional learning workshops prior to students arriving on campus. On these select days, carpool will begin at 9:10 on both campuses and the school day will start at 9:30. Childcare will not be available before carpool on either campus. Save the date for the first late start of the year, September 23.

Communication & Information Platforms
Mount Vernon uses different platforms to share a variety of information to specific audiences. In addition to the Parent Reunite Website and Lower School Learning Platforms, learn more about the other communication & information platforms.

We are looking forward to having all Lower School students on campus Monday through Friday next week, and we are depending on your continued commitment to partnering with us to sustain our health and wellness protocols.

Stay well,

Shelley Searcy
Head of Lower Campus l x2001

Molly Hudson
Director of Lower School l x4211

August 30: Post Labor Day Plan

August 30, 2020

Dear Lower School Families,

We have received such positive feedback on Lower School’s virtual learning days from last week. Thank you to so many of our families who reached out to share what an engaging day of learning it was for our early readers in kindergarten friends all the way to our tech-savvy fifth graders.

As we continue to pilot our hybrid model and de-densify our campus for one more week, we want to remind everyone that homeroom teachers will be engaged in Parent Share Conferences during Virtual Learning this week. Learning Coaches, Connections Teachers, and Lower School Admin will be teaching on your child’s virtual learning day. We will be exploring identity as we continue to cultivate each child’s confidence in self and and sense of belonging in our community. Students will be exploring the following essential questions. How Might We learn more about each other’s identity through the study of our names? We hope you will enjoy exploring this concept with your child.

WEEK 4 — August 31-September 4

4-Day Model: 4 Days On-Campus, 1-Day Synchronous Virtual, Half-Day on Friday

Scaling our reopening plan, Lower School will attend classes 4 days, all-day (8:00-3:00) in-person and 1-day virtually. In advance of the virtual day, teachers are practicing the online tools at school to help your child be prepared. The details of your child’s day are posted on your Seesaw page in the Family Announcement section. Please check the Class Announcements that are posted each Friday afternoon.

Each grade level will have 4 days of on-campus learning and 1 day of scheduled, synchronous virtual learning. We have high expectations for our virtual learning day, and we have been explaining to our students that this is a real school day, just from home. In order to accommodate families who will be dropping siblings off on campus, the virtual day will begin at 9:00. Students should be appropriately dressed, but uniforms are not required. Kindergarten through Grade 2 virtual learning days will adhere to a 9:00-2:00 schedule. Grade 3-Grade 5 will adhere to a 9:00-2:45 schedule.

  • Monday: Grade 5 is virtual
  • Tuesday: Grade 4 is virtual
  • Wednesday: Grade 3 and Kindergarten are virtual
  • Thursday: Grades 1 and 2 are virtual
  • Friday/Half-Day (11:45 dismissal): All grades attend in person

Every child will have a charged, school-issued iPad for virtual learning. Please note the iPad should only be used for school and return to campus the following day. Other workbooks, notebooks, and manipulatives may be sent home as needed, and all resources should also be returned to school the following day.

Reminders:

  • Full-day carpool — Morning drop off begins at 7:30 and afternoon pick up begins at 3:00. Remember significantly more students will be participating in carpool and pre-screenings, so we thank you in advance for your patience.
  • Lunch will be provided. When the weather is favorable, students will be eating lunch outside while maintaining physical distancing. We encourage you to pack a beach towel for a physically-distanced picnic-style lunch.
  • Full-day schedules require our full uniform. Students should wear the dress uniform every Wednesday, beginning August 26.
  • Extended Play will not be available for Lower School students in August and September (except for MV staff).

Beginning Tuesday, September 8

The Lower School will attempt to return to a five-day schedule– four full days with half-day Fridays (through September and possibly October). All students in K-5 will attend school from 8:00-3:00 (carpool begins at 7:30), with an 11:45 dismissal on Fridays. Extended Play will not be offered in September, with the exception of faculty/staff children until 4:30 (12:30 on Fridays). However, the School will continue to assess the health conditions and will modify the models moving forward as more information comes available to the School. In addition, the School will continue to monitor compliance with health & well-being protocols (face coverings, physical distancing, hygiene). If there is a lack of compliance to the protocols, the School will modify the schedule.

With Lower Campus operating at 100% capacity, we are asking for help with carpool procedures. If everyone follows a few simple tips, we will be able to expedite carpool and keep everyone safe.

  • Masks on
  • Screens off
  • Have carpool number clearly displayed in the upper passenger side windshield
  • Pull all the way down to the last cone

Parent Communication: Seesaw

We miss having parents in our hallways and joining our classes, so teachers are working hard to bring the classroom experience to you. Collectively teachers, students, and teachers have posted over 10,000 times so far. Please note the opportunity to sign up for Parent-Share Conferences. You must look at the family announcement section to sign up. The homeroom teachers are eager to connect with you to learn more about your child, family, and goals for the year. Check your email for the invitation and be sure you sign up.

We are so grateful for our community’s commitment to our protocols. We hope you have a wonderful week and restful Labor Day weekend.

Grateful,

Shelley Searcy
Head of Lower Campus l x2001

Molly Hudson
Director of Lower School l x4211

August 23: Week 3 Logistics

August 23, 2020

Dear Lower School Families,

This past week has solidified students’ implementation of our Health and Well-Being Protocols that allow us to remain on campus to learn and play together. We are so proud of your children’s commitment to wear masks, stay “airplane wings” apart, and carefully count before entering a space. Students are also learning the flow of learning routines and eager to jump into rich lessons with the other half of the class next week. It is wonderful to walk the hallways and see self-portraits, unity quits, and wonder walls that reflect our students’ faces, values, and curiosities.

WEEKS 3 & 4 — August 24 – September 4

4-Day Model: 4 Days On-Campus, 1-Day Synchronous Virtual, Half-Day on Friday

Scaling our reopening plan, Lower School will attend classes 4 days, all-day (8:00-3:00) in-person and 1-day virtually. In advance of the virtual day, teachers are practicing the online tools at school to help your child be prepared. The details of your child’s day are posted on your Seesaw page in the Family Announcement section. Please check the Class Announcements that are posted each Friday afternoon.

Each grade level will have 4 days of on-campus learning and 1 day of scheduled, synchronous virtual learning. We have high expectations for our virtual learning day, and we have been explaining to our students that this is a real school day, just from home. In order to accommodate families who will be dropping siblings off on campus, the virtual day will begin at 9:00. Students should be appropriately dressed, but uniforms are not required. Kindergarten through Grade 2 virtual learning days will adhere to a 9:00-2:00 schedule. Grade 3-Grade 5 will adhere to a 9:00-2:45 schedule.

  • Monday: Grade 5 is virtual
  • Tuesday: Grade 4 is virtual
  • Wednesday: Grade 3 and Kindergarten are virtual
  • Thursday: Grades 1 and 2 are virtual
  • Friday/Half-Day (11:45 dismissal): All grades attend in person

Every child will have a charged, school-issued iPad for virtual learning. Please note the iPad should only be used for school and return to campus the following day. Other workbooks, notebooks, and manipulatives may be sent home as needed, and all resources should also be returned to school the following day.

Note:

  • Full-day carpool — Morning drop off begins at 7:30 and afternoon pick up begins at 3:00. Remember significantly more students will be participating in carpool and pre-screenings, so we thank you in advance for your patience.
  • Lunch will be provided. When the weather is favorable, students will be eating lunch outside while maintaining physical distancing. We encourage you to pack a beach towel for a physically-distanced picnic-style lunch.
  • Full-day schedules require our full uniform. Students should wear the dress uniform every Wednesday, beginning August 26.
  • Extended Play will not be available for Lower School students in August and September (except for MV staff).

Post Labor Day Schedule

Post Labor Day, the Lower School will attempt to return to a full-day, five-day schedule. Beginning Tuesday, September 8, all students in K-5 will attend school from 8:00 – 3:00 (carpool begins at 7:30). Extended Play will not be offered in September, with the exception of faculty/staff children until 4:30. However, the School will continue to assess the health conditions and will modify the models moving forward as more information comes available to the School. In addition, the School will continue to monitor compliance with health & well-being protocols (face coverings, physical distancing, hygiene). If there is a lack of compliance to the protocols, the School will modify the schedule.

Parent Communication: Seesaw

We miss having parents in our hallways and joining our classes, so teachers are working hard to bring the classroom experience to you. The teachers posted over 1,000 times so far, and we recorded over 800 parent visits to Seesaw. Please note the opportunity to sign up for Parent-Share Conference was posted on Friday. You must look at the family announcement section to sign up. The homeroom teachers are eager to connect with you to learn more about your child, family, and goals for the year. Check your email for the invitation and be sure you sign up.

We are looking forward to full days for all learners next week. The relationships that have already been established have helped us design a rich week of learning for Lower School students. We cannot overemphasize the importance of compliance to our protocols to keep the campus open.

Grateful,

Shelley Searcy
Head of Lower Campus l x2001

Molly Hudson
Director of Lower School l x5113 

August 16: Week 2 Logistics

August 16, 2020

Dear Lower School Families,

It is good to be reunited. We missed having our parents join us for our welcome assembly, but we still want you to feel included. Please enjoy our dean of student and spiritual life and operations, Ms. Hayes’s, Welcome Back Greeting and director of lower school, Mrs. Hudson’s Chapel Message as she unpacks what it means to Reunite as a Mustang.

Week 2: August 17-21

  • During Week 2, Lower School Homerooms will continue to be split in half and attend half-day classes in-person Monday through Friday, either from 8:00-11:15 or 12:30-3:45.
    • AM Session: Morning drop off begins at 7:30/Morning pick up begins at 11:15
    • PM Session: Afternoon drop off begins at 12:00/Afternoon pick up begins at 3:45
  • Lunch will not be served.
  • Students in Kindergarten through grade 5 will wear the everyday uniform except for Spirit Day on Fridays.
  • Extended Play will not be available for K-8 students in August (except for MV staff).

Commitment to IDEA

The Mount Vernon Lower Campus seeks to instill a positive sense of identity and belonging in each child by cultivating inclusive classrooms. To launch this important work, each student will engage in experiences to affirm their own identities and learn to live, work, and play in an inclusive classroom that embraces diversity. We are excited to share the big ideas for each grade level, so you can continue these conversations at home.

Parent Communication: Seesaw

We had a successful launch of Seesaw last week. Students participated in lessons, teachers uploaded pictures, and the weekly grade level overview was posted on Friday. We are excited about this platform to increase communication between classroom teachers and parents. Please note the opportunity to sign up for Parent-Share Conference was posted on Friday. The homeroom teachers are looking forward to connecting with you to learn more about your child, family, and goals for the year. Check your email for the invitation and be sure you sign up.

Late Entry

For students who arrive after carpool has completed, screenings will occur just before entering the front desk of the Activities Building. Please park and walk your child to the door, but do not enter the building. If a student does not pass the health screening, they will need to return home. After a successful screening, students should follow these instructions for entering the building:

  • Make sure your mask is covering your nose and mouth.
  • Sanitize your hands.
  • Head straight to your homeroom.

Looking Ahead: Weeks 3&4 (August 24 – September 4)

  • Lower School will attend classes 4 days, all-day (8:00-3:00) in-person and 1-day virtually. Continuing to reduce the size by building/division at any given time, the virtual days will be staggered by grade-level for both divisions. Each grade level will have 4 days of on-campus learning and 1 day of scheduled, synchronous virtual learning.
    • Monday: Grade 5 is virtual
    • Tuesday: Grade 4 is virtual
    • Wednesday: Grade 3 and Kindergarten are virtual
    • Thursday: Grades 1 and 2 are virtual
  • Full-day carpool
    • Morning drop off begins at 7:30
    • Afternoon pick up begins at 3:00
  • Lunch will be provided.
  • Extended Play will not be available for PS-8 students in August (except for MV staff).

Your children’s smiling eyes tell us all we need to know about their desire to be at school. We also appreciate the gratitude and encouragement you all have shared with your child’s teachers and the School. It takes all of us working together, and we are having fun doing it.

Go Mustangs!

Shelley Searcy
Head of Lower Campus l x2001

Molly Hudson
Director of Lower School l x4211

August 11: Week 1 Logistics and Orientation

August 11, 2020

Dear Lower School Families,

Last week your teachers were on campus for professional learning, team building, and reimagining our collaborative and interactive classrooms. They engaged in rich professional learning workshops on Mindfulness, Technology Integration & Inspiration, Recess Reimagined, Blended Learning, and Supporting Anxiety in Unpredictable Times. In addition to their hard work last week, our new teachers and returning faculty were dedicated to rigorous professional development all summer focused on all of the components of our Lower School Program.

Today made it all worth it. Seeing all of your faces in carpool today brought joy and hope. We are grateful for our slow start to practice wellness protocols and procedures. Thank you for the sacrifices you are making with these increased logistical challenges.

Are you curious about what happened after you dropped your child off for the morning session today? We started the day, like we do every school day, with prayer, pledge of allegiance, and the School’s mission statement. Our Kindergarten friends talked about their feelings and expectations by reading First Day Jitters. Second Graders played “Get to Know Your Teacher” games and learned some funny, unknown facts. Fourth Graders explored one of our new interactive technology platforms, Pear Deck, to reflect on their summers and create a recipe for a great first day. Everyone exchanged air hugs, high fives, and fist bumps.

Commitment to IDEA 

The Mount Vernon Lower Campus seeks to instill a positive sense of identity and belonging in each child by cultivating inclusive classrooms. To launch this important work, each student will engage in experiences to affirm their own identities and learn to live, work, and play in an inclusive classroom that embraces diversity. We are excited to share the big ideas for each grade level, so you can continue these conversations at home.

COVID Health & Well-Being Protocols, Acknowledgement and Daily Hygiene & Screening

  • The Acknowledgment Form for the Addendum to the Family & Student Handbook must be completed in order for students to attend school.
  • AT A GLANCE:
    • Drop-off carpool screenings were a success! Please have masks on and music and screens off to expedite this process.
    • Students did a great job wearing their masks today. Please continue to practice at home.
    • The sounds of Lower Schoolers singing, “Happy Birthday!” while they washed their hands, was certainly a joyful noise.
    • Visual cues and gentle reminders helped our Lower Schoolers practice physical distancing.
    • Homerooms stayed in their tight bubbles.
    • Our Connections Teachers helped students learn our new protocols by being present in hallways, classrooms, recess, and at carpool.

Carpool and Entering the Building

Watch how Renegade arrives at school, gets screened in carpool, and enters each building!

Please wear masks during carpool. We want to be able to safely communicate with you as needed. As a reminder, the School will implement daily screenings during morning carpool to determine the health and exposure of students entering the Lower Campus.

  • AM Session: Morning drop off begins at 7:30 /Morning pick up begins at 11:15
  • Lower school students with a preschool sibling will join the preschooler at 11:45 pick up
  • PM Session: Afternoon drop begins at 12:00 /Afternoon pick up begins at 3:45

For students being dropped off, screenings will be conducted by administrators through the window of each vehicle. For students who arrive after carpool has completed, screenings will occur just before entering the front desk of the Activities Building. Please park and walk your child to the door, but do not enter the building. If a student does not pass the health screening, they will need to return home.

After a successful screening, students should follow these instructions for entering the building:

  • Make sure your mask is covering your nose and mouth.
  • Sanitize your hands.
  • Head straight to your homeroom.

Parent Communication and Progress Monitoring: Seesaw

Mount Vernon’s ePortfolio system catalogs students’ goals, growth, and reflections, providing teachers a place to give feedback and parents the opportunity to comment as well. We have always seen the benefits of student ePortoflio curation, and last spring further elevated the need for more robust online platforms. We are excited to start the year with new resources to promote personalized learning, host virtual learning, and increase communication between home and school.

Seesaw will replace PowerSchool Learning as the Lower School’s primary link between your teacher and family. Teachers will regularly post an overview of the learning goals for the upcoming week, home learning assignments, and announcements to help parents stay connected. Furthermore, students will participate in lessons through Seesaw, be able to post their own work, respond to teacher feedback, and receive comments and encouragement from their family. Seesaw has student-friendly tools built in for photos, videos, drawing, uploading, taking notes, and linking to other resources. We are excited to practice using Seesaw together and build independence for our learners. If you want to learn more about Seesaw, please check out this short video: An Overview of Seesaw for Families and be on the lookout in your inbox for an invitation to join your class’s Seesaw account.

Additionally, student progress will be communicated through a combination of graded papers and proficiency scales, conferences, as well as feedback recorded digitally. Back-to-School Parent-Share Conferences will be held virtually the week of August 31. Homeroom teachers will share a sign-up through Seesaw this week. Virtual Teacher-Led Conferences are scheduled for November.

Student Agency and Digital Citizenship

We know Lower School students learn best through hands-on, multisensory, and experiential learning. During this time, however, we are constantly researching the best ways for children to learn independently within a virtual community. While nothing compares to in-person interactions between a student and teacher, the new online tools and platforms are impressive. During the first couple of weeks of school, each Lower School student will receive a school-issued, personal iPad that is pre-loaded with our favorite learning resources. Children will be learning about digital citizenship including lessons about how to be safe online, be a kind and responsible digital citizen, and how to navigate platforms to learn and share work. We are mindful of the research around screen time, and also realistic about the importance of each child being able to continue learning between school and home in these uncertain times.

Fifth Grade, Middle School and Upper School Athletics: Parent & Fan Participation

During the month of August, under the current health conditions, the School has made the difficult decision not to allow any parents or fans to attend competitions on the Mount Vernon campus. However, we are attempting to provide live feeds at all three MV athletic venues for competitions. In conjunction, the School will be competing against other schools that prohibit parents or fans from attending their athletic facilities. After Labor Day, the School will continue to evaluate the ability for parents and fans to attend games in-person.

Important Contacts

Please reach out to us for any reason.

Eric Cheek, Lower School Executive Assistant | x2000

Elisse Hayes, Lower Campus Dean of Student and Spiritual Life and Operations | x2002

Angie Bush, Lower Campus Head of Learning and Innovation | x2012

Anna Stoller, Lower Campus Nurse | x2010

Stephanie Corbett, Lower Campus Counselor | x2021

Samantha Flowers, Director of Academic Resources | x2007

The opportunity to reunite with our students and families today was such a blessing. We value your partnership and are depending on collective compliance to keep our students, teachers, and families safe.

Students — this Friday, in honor of Coach Ron Hill, wear your new MV spirit shirt that sports an 03 — his football jersey and military fraternity number. 
 

Go Mustangs!

Shelley Searcy
Head of Lower Campus l x2001

Molly Hudson
Director of Lower School l x4211

August 4: Reunite: Handbook Addendum, Acknowledgement Form, and Class Schedule

August 4, 2020

Dear Lower School Families,

It’s time to get excited! Your teachers are already at the School, learning our new protocols, redesigning your classrooms, and brainstorming fun ideas to welcome you all back.

At 3:00 pm today, class lists for students in Kindergarten – Grade 5 will be emailed directly to families within each grade level from their respective Lower School Heads of Grade listed below. Morning and afternoon designations that apply to the first two weeks of school will also be shared at this time, along with a Room Parent interest form link. 

  • Kindergarten: Addy DeVore
  • FIrst Grade: Anna Johnson
  • Second Grade: Melanie Thompson
  • Third Grade: Sarah Wright
  • Fourth Grade: David Ayers
  • Fifth Grade: Emily Edwards

Orientation

Adhering to the health and well-being protocols, the School is limiting access to campus in order to mitigate risk of the virus. Therefore, Orientations have been reimagined and will not take place on-campus in-person. Rather, families will receive a video introduction of your teachers and a peek inside the classroom. We encourage you to watch this video together as a family and build excitement for the new year. Do you have any connections with your new teacher? What looks the same? What looks different?

To further engage each family, please make plans to attend your Classroom Virtual Meet and Greet on Thursday, August 6. Though virtual, this will be a live event to interact with your teacher, reconnect with old friends, and welcome our new Mustangs. Look for the Zoom Link information in today’s email from your Head of Grade. 

Back to School Checklist

Please discuss and practice wearing a mask, which is required, washing hands, and maintaining 6-foot physical distance with your child at home. The School will provide a Mount Vernon face covering for each student, or you are welcome to wear your own.

The Acknowledgment Form for the Addendum to the Family & Student Handbook must be completed in order for students to attend the first day of school.

Students are asked to bring a backpack, water bottle, and a nut-free snack (Lower Campus is entirely nut-free). Please label everything!

The everyday uniform should be worn on the first day, and each student will receive this year’s MV Spirit Shirt and their MV branded face covering the first day they come to school.

As a reminder all required daily items will be supplied by the School. There are, however, a few optional items for personal purchase.

First Day of Lower School: Tuesday, August 11

Lower School Carpool:

  • Morning Carpool: All Lower School students have the same morning drop-off location. Please enter campus from Johnson Ferry Road and turn right. Pull around and all the way down to the edge of the courtyard. A member of our team will conduct a screening on students before they leave the car. Please be masked and ready to have temperature checks before the teacher arrives at your car window. We recommend that music and videos are turned off to expedite this process. As a reminder, parents are not allowed to walk students into the building this year. If you arrive after carpool is over, you may walk your child to the front desk of the Activities Building. Mr. Cheek will buzz you in and conduct the student’s screening there. Please make sure you and your child are wearing personal face coverings.
  • Afternoon Carpool
    • K- Grade 1: Kindergarten and First Grade Parents, please enter the campus from Johnson Ferry and turn right, just like morning carpool. Then, stay in the left-hand lane and continue past the courtyard and past the Preschool awning. You will pick your child up near the Education Building at the Mount Vernon Hwy exit.
    • Grades 2-5: Second through Fifth Grade Parents, please enter the campus from Johnson Ferry and turn right, just like morning carpool. Then, get in the right-hand land and continue towards Mt. Vernon Hwy along the Lower Campus Field. You will pick up your child near the Activities Building at the Mt. Vernon Hwy exit.
    • All families: Fill up your gas tank and have a cold bottled water for carpool. Things may take a little longer and will definitely require more hands on deck. So, please be patient with us.

Weeks 1 & 2: August 11 – 21

  • During Weeks 1 & 2, Lower School Homerooms will be split in half and attend half-day classes in-person Monday through Friday, either from 8:00-11:15 or 12:30-3:45. The School does not intend to shift the teaching and learning responsibility to parents under this schedule, only an extension of learning.
    • AM Session: Morning drop off begins at 7:30/Morning pick up begins at 11:15
    • PM Session: Afternoon drop off begins at 12:00/Afternoon pick up begins at 3:45
  • Lunch will not be served.
  • Students in Kindergarten through grade 5 will wear the everyday uniform except for Spirit Day on Fridays. No dress uniforms during these two weeks.
  • Extended Play will not be available for K-8 students in August (except for MV staff).

Weeks 3 & 4: August 24 – September 4

  • Lower School will attend classes 4 days, all-day (8:00-3:00) in-person and 1-day virtually. Continuing to reduce the size by building/division at any given time, the virtual days will be staggered by grade-level for both divisions. Each grade level will have 4 days of on-campus learning and 1 day of scheduled, synchronous virtual learning.
    • Monday: Grade 5 is virtual
    • Tuesday: Grade 4 is virtual
    • Wednesday: Grade 3 and Kindergarten are virtual
    • Thursday: Grades 1 and 2 are virtual
  • Full-day carpool
    • Morning drop off begins at 7:30
    • Afternoon pick up begins at 3:00
  • Lunch will be provided.
  • Students in Kindergarten through grade 5 will wear the everyday uniform except for Spirit Day on Fridays. No dress uniforms during these two weeks.
  • Extended Play will not be available for PS-8 students in August (except for MV staff).

Program Details

Lower School teachers will share regular updates about your child’s curriculum, programming, and progress through the ePortfolio platform, SeeSaw. These updates will include an overview of learning experiences, students’ work samples, and ideas for ways to extend the learning at home. Each parent will receive an email with instructions on how to create your personal account. You will enjoy seeing your child’s work and engaging through comments.

Connections 

Unfortunately, classes will not be traveling to the Art Studios, Science Lab, Spanish Room or Studio (i). However, Connection Teachers go to the homerooms to build community and engage the whole child. PE will be limited to homeroom only, and may be held in the classroom, outside, or in the gym based on availability. Though Connections classes and PE will be limited in our half-day schedule, we are committed to best practices around brain breaks, movement, and play inside our classrooms and outdoors.

Important Contacts

Eric Cheek, Lower School Executive Assistant | x2000
Elisse Hayes, Lower Campus Dean of Student and Spiritual Life and Operations | x2002
Anna Stoller, Lower Campus Nurse | x2010
Stephanie Corbett, Lower Campus Counselor | x2021
Samantha Flowers, Director of Academic Resources | x2007
Brandi Hoyos, Lower Campus and Upper Campus Director of IDEA | x2254

Kind regards,

Shelley Searcy
Head of Lower Campus l x2001

Molly Hudson
Director of Lower School l x4211

July 30 LS Back-to-School Plan

Dear Lower School Families,

You may remember all of our hopes in late spring last year of returning to celebrations for homerooms that separated too quickly. However, the summer months have proven more difficult than ever imagined, and Mount Vernon is faced with our most challenging decisions yet, regarding our return to school.

Protecting our teachers and our Lower School students, we are committed to a slow and methodical start of the school year. We recognize the need for your children to be in school five full days a week, and we are eager for them to return. However, we are cautiously realistic about the transition this will be for all, and having a successful start to the year is of paramount importance.

Returning to school on August 11 brings excitement for the familiar things we love about Mount Vernon Lower School – friends, laughter, math challenges, and student-led chapel worship. We will, however, miss some of our favorite things like morning courtyard play. Mixed-age family-style lunch will be replaced with picnic-style homeroom lunches. Rather than visiting our amazing art studio, the arts will travel to the classrooms. Mystery readers will join via Zoom, but the most important thing is that we will be reunited.

Class Lists
On August 4, Heads of Grade will share class lists via email.

Orientation

  • Tuesday, August 4 Orientation pre-recorded videos will introduce classroom teachers, offer a virtual tour of the classroom, and walk through carpool procedures and protocols.
  • Thursday, August 6 Homeroom virtual meet and greets will allow children to connect with their classmates and teachers.
  • August 31- September 3 Virtual family-share conferences will be held to further connect each family and their child’s teacher – this time is suggested to be for adults rather than children. Homeroom teachers will share a sign-up.
    • Monday, August 31: Grade 5
    • Tuesday, September 1: Grade 4
    • Wednesday, September 2: Kindergarten and Grade 3
    • Thursday, September 3: Grades 1 and 2

First Day of Lower School: August 11

Weeks 1 & 2: August 11 – August 21

Being away for five months, implementing quality control health and well-being protocols, and recognizing the current health environment we are in, Lower School will adhere to an adjusted schedule for the first two weeks of school. We recognize this is logistically challenging for our families. Reducing the number of students on campus, however, has many benefits. We are able to ease into new routines. More outdoor space is available for play, eating, and outdoor learning. Carpools will be quicker, and the classrooms will have more “wiggle room” for brain breaks and movement.

  • During Weeks 1 & 2 Lower School Homerooms will be split in half and attend half-day classes in-person Monday through Friday, either from 8:00-11:15 or 12:30-3:45.
    • AM Session: Morning drop off begins at 7:30/Morning pick up begins at 11:15
    • PM Session: Afternoon drop off begins at 12:00/Afternoon pick up begins at 3:45
  • On August 4, assigned morning or afternoon designations will be released with class lists.
  • Especially for younger students, the School does not intend to shift the teaching and learning responsibility to parents under this schedule, only an extension of learning.
  • Lunch will not be served during these first two weeks.
  • For these first two weeks, the Lower School will wear the everyday uniform except for Spirit Day on Fridays. No dress uniforms during these two weeks.
  • Extended Play will not be available for K-8 students in August (except for MV staff).

Weeks 3 & 4: August 24 – September 4

  • Lower School will attend classes 4 days, all-day (8:00-3:00) in-person and 1-day virtually. Continuing to reduce the size by building/division at any given time, the virtual days will be staggered by grade-level for both divisions. Each grade level will have 4 days of on-campus learning and 1 day of scheduled, synchronous virtual learning.
    • Monday: Grade 5 is virtual
    • Tuesday: Grade 4 is virtual
    • Wednesday: Grade 3 and Kindergarten are virtual
    • Thursday: Grades 1 and 2 are virtual
  • Full-day carpool
    • Morning drop off begins at 7:30
    • Afternoon pick up begins at 3:00
  • Lunch will be provided.
  • Extended Play will not be available for PS-8 students in August (except for MV staff).

Teaching & Learning
The first four weeks for Lower School will focus on the following:

  • A positive and inclusive classroom environment fostering a strong bond between students and teachers as well as friendships with peers, just with a little more personal space between us and inside of our homeroom bubbles.
  • Health and wellness protocols and classroom routines.
  • Observation and assessment of student’s growth and development to guide lesson planning and small, differentiated groups.
  • Foundational skills including phonics, literary, math, and science. We will build each student’s capacity to independently navigate our more robust ePortfolio platform on a personal, school-issued iPad. Additionally, there will be a strong emphasis on digital citizenship with an increased dependence on technology to strengthen student agency and navigate the unknowns of learning through a pandemic.
  • Less time dedicated to Connections classes and PE.

Virtual Option. Lower School students who elect to go virtual every day will join a virtual cohort with a virtual teacher. The virtual teacher will collaborate with each child’s homeroom teacher and design personalized, developmentally appropriate learning experiences. This will include a combination of scheduled synchronous lessons, time to connect with peers on campus, and independent practice and project work while away from campus. If your family would like to elect the virtual option, please contact Sheldon Staples at [email protected]

After Labor Day, the School will continue to assess the health pandemic conditions and provide the right model for all divisions, seeking to return to full capacity. As more information is available to the School, we will be communicating weekly through this dedicated parent website.

Additional details regarding the first day of school and general back-to-school specifics will be shared next week, once families have had an opportunity to absorb the scheduling information.

Knowing the health of our teachers, students, and families are dependent on a successful start back to school, let’s commit to a positive, slow start to the year carefully following the School’s health and wellness protocols with collective compliance.

We are grateful for your partnership.

Shelley Searcy
Head of Lower Campus

Molly Hudson

Director of Lower School