Preschool Update

April 11, 2021

Dear Preschool Families,

This past week has been a busy one for our Preschool students and teachers. Friday’s National Unicorn Day celebration was especially exciting. We are amazed at all of the unicorn and rainbow clothing and accessories that brought some sparkle and fun to the hallways as we activated preschool imaginations and celebrated Miss Erin. Thank you to everyone who contributed to this special day.

Additionally, classrooms have been preparing for next week’s Preschool Learning Showcase and Grandparents and Special Friends Day. Our MV Littles are excited to show off all of their learning and progress this year.

Week of April 12-16

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 have worked hard to create a special surprise for their loved ones and show off some of their favorite learning experiences from the year. Everything will be posted on Kaymbu on Friday, and we encourage parents, grandparents, and special friends to check it all out and leave comments back to our students. 

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 Preschool Students
As a reminder, Preschool will host Parent Conference Day on April 28. Please be on the lookout for sign-ups through Kaymbu. There will be no school for students on this day.

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 | x2001

Erin Carey
Director of Preschool | x2329

Communication Archive

Aprile 4

April 4, 2021

Dear Preschool Families,

Happy Easter to your and your family! This short week on campus has been filled with evidence of school spirit and springtime. Your children were precious decked out in their spiritwear for the filming of the Mustang Rally Parade and Senior videos. Additionally, we celebrated the Easter story and enjoyed an Egg Hunt on the Frontier. Thank you for all you did to help make these events a success. 

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. 

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 Preschool Students
As a reminder, Preschool will host Parent Conference Day on April 28. Please be on the lookout for sign-ups through Kaymbu. 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 | x2001

March 28

March 28, 2021

Dear Preschool 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 Preschool, and we want to highlight some of the ways your children are being challenged to grow as mathematicians. Many of us did not grow up with an approach to learning mathematics that included manipulatives, collaborative learning, and discussions that promote a deep understanding of number sense and number systems.

Like we shared earlier in the month, one of our goals in the Preschool is to move students from the simple task of rote memorization of numbers in order to understand the value of a number. Universally, one of the first big ideas in mathematical development is cardinality, the idea that number means “amount.” We want to celebrate your children’s development of these critical ideas by highlighting some of their projects.

  • A Two’s Class is understanding quantity through counting classmates’ votes. What are they voting on? If you are a parent of a child in this class, you know hermit crabs have peaked their interest, so we are learning lots about quantity through the needs of our hermit crabs!
  • A PK3 class is learning to order, compare, and measure quantities as well as learning about patterns through creating a giant nest in their classroom as part of a bird habitat project.
  • A PK4 class is learning how to sort, classify, and understand spatial relationships through their train project. We are building trains on the Frontier and making maps to apply this knowledge.
  • PK5 is excited about the invention of the SuperSoaker! They are spending lots of time outside ordering, comparing and measuring the distance water can travel! As you can imagine, engagement is high during this project, so achievement is also high!

Just as children initially struggle to learn to walk, number sense develops in small steps with lots of repetition, practice, and encouragement. Our teachers do an incredible job of making this learning relevant and fun for your young children.

Director of Preschool Search Update
Our initial search has produced a robust pool of candidates, with initial interviews beginning this week. The over thirty highly qualified candidates range from graduates of schools like Wake Forest to leadership certificates from Harvard, to several individuals with PhDs. Among the candidates are strong early childhood teachers and educational leaders with over 20 years experience. The pool represents racial and ethnic diversity as well as international teaching experience. We also have internal interest in the position. I am excited to lead this search and will continue to update you on our progress.

Thank you to the parents who filled out our community feedback form. We welcome feedback from each member of our community and appreciate your insight.

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
Preschool students are encouraged to wear spirit wear 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 Sherry Washington, our Preschool Extended Play/PlayMaker Program Director, 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 as well as to conduct our search for the next director of the Preschool. Thank you for your continued support at home.

Kind regards,

Shelley Searcy
Head of Lower Campus | x2001

Erin Carey
Director of Preschool | x2329

March 28

March 28, 2021

Dear Preschool 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 Preschool, and we want to highlight some of the ways your children are being challenged to grow as mathematicians. Many of us did not grow up with an approach to learning mathematics that included manipulatives, collaborative learning, and discussions that promote a deep understanding of number sense and number systems.

Like we shared earlier in the month, one of our goals in the Preschool is to move students from the simple task of rote memorization of numbers in order to understand the value of a number. Universally, one of the first big ideas in mathematical development is cardinality, the idea that number means “amount.” We want to celebrate your children’s development of these critical ideas by highlighting some of their projects.

  • A Two’s Class is understanding quantity through counting classmates’ votes. What are they voting on? If you are a parent of a child in this class, you know hermit crabs have peaked their interest, so we are learning lots about quantity through the needs of our hermit crabs!
  • A PK3 class is learning to order, compare, and measure quantities as well as learning about patterns through creating a giant nest in their classroom as part of a bird habitat project.
  • A PK4 class is learning how to sort, classify, and understand spatial relationships through their train project. We are building trains on the Frontier and making maps to apply this knowledge.
  • PK5 is excited about the invention of the SuperSoaker! They are spending lots of time outside ordering, comparing and measuring the distance water can travel! As you can imagine, engagement is high during this project, so achievement is also high!

Just as children initially struggle to learn to walk, number sense develops in small steps with lots of repetition, practice, and encouragement. Our teachers do an incredible job of making this learning relevant and fun for your young children.

Director of Preschool Search Update
Our initial search has produced a robust pool of candidates, with initial interviews beginning this week. The over thirty highly qualified candidates range from graduates of schools like Wake Forest to leadership certificates from Harvard, to several individuals with PhDs. Among the candidates are strong early childhood teachers and educational leaders with over 20 years experience. The pool represents racial and ethnic diversity as well as international teaching experience. We also have internal interest in the position. I am excited to lead this search and will continue to update you on our progress.

Thank you to the parents who filled out our community feedback form. We welcome feedback from each member of our community and appreciate your insight.

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
Preschool students are encouraged to wear spirit wear 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 Sherry Washington, our Preschool Extended Play/PlayMaker Program Director, 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 as well as to conduct our search for the next director of the Preschool. Thank you for your continued support at home.

Kind regards,

Shelley Searcy
Head of Lower Campus | x2001

Erin Carey
Director of Preschool | x2329

March 21

March 21, 2021

Dear Preschool 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 | x2001

Erin Carey
Director of Preschool | x2329

March 14

March 14, 2021

Dear Preschool Families,

February was a fantastic month of uninterrupted, rich learning, and the demonstrations of the students projects that line the hallways are truly inspiring. As we shared over the last couple of weeks, lifelong learning and critical thinking skills are rooted in the natural wonder that we foster through the Project Approach in our preschool. So many of your children’s curiosities and their projects integrate math concepts. Our teachers are trained to observe and listen to our students to find the math connections in stories, games, routines, and real-life problems. All of us are born with the ability to do math, but mastery takes substantial practice. So, our classrooms are dedicated to engaging children in frequent math talks which advances as a child’s understanding of mathematical language and concepts.

During the month of March, we want to encourage you to increase your intentional math conversations at home as well. Remember, math is so much more than counting! Reciting numbers in a memorized order actually doesn’t take any mathematical understanding at all. However, we want to encourage you to explore some more advanced concepts with your child:

  • Matching and Sorting: How are (people, places, objects) the same? How are they different?
  • Patterns: What comes next? Where do you see patterns in nature? 
  • Number Sense: How many do we have? How many more do we need?
  • Measuring: Which is bigger? How big is it? 
  • Spatial Relationships: Where is it? 

As you transition back from Spring Break, make sure you mark your calendars with the events 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 

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. 

Whether Spring Break offered your family the chance to travel and get away or enjoy a staycation in Atlanta, I hope you continued to be safe and well. We look forward to seeing everyone back on campus tomorrow.

Kind regards,

Shelley Searcy
Head of Lower Campus | x2001

Erin Carey
Director of Preschool | x2329

February 28

February 28, 2021

Dear Preschool Families,

The sun came out last week, and the smiles in Preschool got even brighter! Last week we shared a little bit about why we utilize the Project Approach and what topics our students are interested in. 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 infused in Project work.

Additional Skills developed through the Project Approach include:

  • Learning how to learn
  • Increased vocabulary
  • Confidence engaging with “experts” on a topic
  • Ability to make observations
  • Record field notes in the form of sketches and drawings
  • Ability to represent learning with models, building, or through play
  • Independently solving problems

We hope your family will choose to participate in our Week of Impact next week and consider all of the academic and child development skills your child might engage by serving others. 

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. 

Finally, we hope you all read the School’s communication last week regarding our Preschool Director search. Your feedback is important to this process, so please take a moment to complete this form and share your thoughts.

Kind regards,

Shelley Searcy
Head of Lower Campus | x2001

Erin Carey
Director of Preschool | x2329

February 21

February 21, 2021

Dear Preschool 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 Preschool. As a school dedicated to inquiry-based learning, we value The Project Approach with our youngest learners 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. Whether your child is learning to sit up, walk, or read, the Preschool teachers are attuned to their curiosities and passions, and use those observations to relate new information with the familiar and spark deeper connections.

Some of the projects going on right now include:

  • Infants and Toddlers: “Then and Now”
  • Twos: The Mail and Hermit Crabs
  • PK3: Performances, and Birds
  • PK4: Dramatic Play
  • PK5: Inventions

Be sure to ask your child about the project work going on, and check out evidence of the learning on your class Kaymbu 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 that each child has an enormous potential for development, and the foundations set in the early years are so important. Children learn to think by thinking, and we are committed to designing challenging and fun experiences to promote critical thinking and problem solving through interactions with adults and other children in our Project Work. We hope you will follow along with your child’s class project; you might even learn something new yourself!

Kind regards,

Shelley Searcy
Head of Lower Campus | x2001

Erin Carey
Director of Preschool | x2329

February 14

February 14, 2021

Dear Preschool Families,

Happy Valentine’s Day! Preschoolers definitely know how to love, and we were focused on gratitude and appreciation last week. Your children created and delivered cards to people on campus for whom we are thankful such as the facilities team, dining staff, and other helpers. Thank you to all of our families who created a paper heart to express your love for your child. Thank you to all of the families who decorated hearts to celebrate your love and appreciation of our amazing Preschool Faculty members, what a wonderful surprise for them to come in Thursday morning to see. Additionally, our chapel service last week focused on God’s unconditional love. It was a great week to give, receive, and experience love and belonging.

I hope you were able to attend The School’s Parent University last week featuring renowned psychologist and best-selling author, Dr. Lisa Damour. She explained the keys to understanding stress and anxiety. We received such great feedback about her presentation from teachers and parents, so be sure you check out her website for more resources.

Week of February 15-19

Monday, February 15
No School

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 | x2001

Erin Carey
Director of Preschool | x2329

February 7

February 7, 2021

Dear Preschool 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 six months of age, children can discern racial feature differences, and three year olds start to notice racial bias. By the age of four, children can show and feel discrimination. Oftentimes, we assume Preschool 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. Specifically, we will be studying Black artists, designers, and inventors this year. Be sure you ask your child and check out the class Kaymbu 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

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

Week of February 15-19

Monday, February 15
No School

We are looking forward to all that 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 | x2001

Erin Carey
Director of Preschool | x2329

January 31

January 31, 2021

Dear Preschool 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 Preschool includes so many different facets from development of fine motor skills and visual tracking to naming letters and eventually writing words. In previous weeks, we have talked a lot about oral communication and reading, and today we are going to focus on writing.

Well-before children can hold a pencil, tasks like playing with playdough builds hand strength and fine motor skills. Before you know it, children are drawing, scribbling, creating letter-like symbols, and then stringing together letters. Celebrate your child’s written expression by asking him or her to tell you about their writing. Painting, drawing, sculpture, collages, dancing, singing, playing instruments, making videos, taking photographs are all very simple things that can promote language development.

In addition to increasing the time you are talking, singing, and reading time with your child, remember to include your child in writing at home too. Whether that is building hand strength through sand play, using art projects to scribble and draw, or if your child is ready, offer opportunities to write words, lists, or stories. We are excited about the progress we are seeing with our Preschool 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 | x2001

Erin Carey
Director of Preschool | x2329

January 24

January 24, 2021

Dear Preschool Families,

As we shared last week, it is a great time of the year to focus on reading. Additionally, let’s explore more aspects of literacy, beyond simply reading. For some of you, your child was born just 15 weeks ago, but in a few short years, that baby will be telling jokes, negotiating bedtime, or expressing unique opinions! At Mount Vernon, we seek to inspire and equip strong communication skills in our students. Brain imaging tells us that newborns immediately recognize their mothers’ voices. Babies listen to the sounds of language, see facial expressions and gestures, pay attention to context, and feel the touches of parents and caregivers. By eighteen months, many children can string together two word phrases, pick out words in the middle of a sentence, and may learn as many as five new words a day. Reading books, using advanced vocabulary, and having family dinner conversations all make a huge difference in linguistic development. As children get older, encouraging them to use complete sentences to answer questions and to describe the world around them is a great way for them to develop an understanding of the mechanics of our language, and also to increase their vocabulary. Did you know that as recently as 2015, researchers at Stanford University found that children with larger vocabularies displayed greater reading and mathematics achievement upon entering kindergarten. Ultimately, the size of a child’s vocabulary prepares them for greater academic achievement.

Strong communication is also dependent on a child’s attention, focus, and self-control. You can support development in these areas by making observations in nature, playing games like “Peekaboo” and “Pat-a-Cake,” using familiar words in new ways, and increasing time spent on tasks. Praise your child’s effort and persistence in strengthening these skills.

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. 

It is fun to be a part of a community so focused on learning and growth, not only for our students, but also for our faculty. We enjoy sharing our strategies with you to continue the home-school partnership. 

Kind regards,

Shelley Searcy
Head of Lower Campus | x2001

Erin Carey
Director of Preschool | x2329

January 17

January 17 2021

Dear Preschool Families,

The cold air outside makes it the perfect time to increase the time you spend reading with your child. The winter holidays, celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Inauguration Day, and classic literature all provide a rich diversity of experiences you might enjoy exploring with your child. While our babies, toddlers, and Preschool students are not yet expected to read, the foundation for reading develops early through connections with their families and teachers.

In addition to reading to your babies, talk about the book, its illustrations, and the words. Notice your baby’s facial expressions and body language. Rich foundations of language and literacy are already starting even before your baby can speak! Toddlers benefit from reading the same stories over and over again. They may also enjoy “reading” the book to you. This is a great opportunity to ask open-ended questions about the story and launch into important conversations. Set the goal of five back and forth exchanges between yourself and your little to build language, attention, and memory. Preschoolers are ready for a variety of books that reflect your family’s culture and values. Follow-up conversations about these stories can help build empathy for others as well as vocabulary.

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. Talking, reading, and playing with language at any age is fun and foundational! Please share your favorite books, moments, and the conversations that come from this through the Kaymbu app, by using the Kaymbu at Home feature, using the big green plus sign to take a photo or video to send to your teachers. We want to continue to connect home and school learning for our students.

Early Preschool COVID Policy Addendum

Any Early Preschool employee or student in the same class with an employee or student who tests positive for COVID-19 will be considered to have had direct exposure. All employees and students within the self-contained classroom will be required to adhere to the 14-day quarantine guidelines due to the inability of this age group to maintain adequate social distance and wear a face covering. The 14-day quarantine will also apply to children who have self reported direct exposures outside of school.

Our reading lives in the Preschool 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 our young children in the Preschool, but it is critical that all ages know the history of the civil rights movement and see the connections to today’s movements. These books will promote 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 | x2001

Erin Carey
Director of Preschool | x2329

January 10

January 10, 2020

Dear Preschool Families,

Welcome back to school. On Monday, our teachers gathered on campus to begin 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 Preschool this semester. 

Early Preschool COVID Policy Addendum
Any Early Preschool employee or student in the same class with an employee or student who tests positive for COVID-19 will be considered to have had direct exposure. All employees and students within the self-contained classroom will be required to adhere to the 14-day quarantine guidelines due to the inability of this age group to maintain adequate social distance and wear a face covering. The 14-day quarantine will also apply to children who have self reported direct exposures outside of school. 

Lower Campus 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 Preschoolers bound out of the car, skip, run, or dance into the building eager to see their teacher and friends to start 2021. 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 | x2001

Erin Carey
Director of Preschool | x2329

January 3

January 3, 2020

Dear Preschool 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 have one of our recently born babies who will join our Preschool for the first time, or have a little one getting ready to head to Lower School in August, know that 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.

  1. Singing is an important part of language development.
    1. Singing helps babies bond with your voice and know that they are loved.
    2. Babies feel safe when life is predictable. Try wake-up, bedtime, or other routine songs to ease transitions.
    3. Singing requires listening which is an important skill for language development.
  2. Reading is critical to all facets of development.
    1. Reading a book is an opportunity to embrace your child, so they feel loved.
    2. Books enrich language by exposing new vocabulary.
    3. It is fun to explore illustrations, rhyme, and humor.
    4. Informational books can scaffold background knowledge, promote social justice, and spark new passions for young children.
  3. Reading is a great way to introduce and reinforce math concepts in real-world contexts.
    1. Ask your child to estimate or make predictions as you read.
    2. Count characters, pictures in the illustrations, or events in a story.
    3. Emphasize sequential language like first, then, later, and next.
    4. Compare sizes, shapes, and quantities of objects in a story.

Let’s get 2021 started! Remember to perform your health screening at home and have your green dot ready for carpool. Make sure all new winter coats, hats, and shoes are labeled before bringing them to school. It is going to be a wonderful semester in the Preschool. We’ll see you on Tuesday, running a regular schedule.

Kind regards,

Shelley Searcy
Head of Lower Campus | x2001

Erin Carey
Director of Preschool | x2329

December 13: Week 19 Logistics

December 13, 2020

Dear Preschool Families,

The Preschool was crawling with excitement this past week. Children were engaged in deep project work following their own curiosities of bugs, zoos, stores, and books. Through these projects, they are learning about life cycles, how to care for and transport animals, marketing, economics, the writing process, and authors. Additionally, children are challenged to be communicators, ethical decision makers, collaborators, innovators, creative thinkers, and solution seekers. Preschoolers are doing real-world work based on their own observations, discovery, and the inspiration and resources of MV Experts. It is amazing to see their growth since the beginning of the semester.

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.

Next week will be a magical week on campus. In Preschool, the sense of wonderment and joy during this time of year is truly special. Grounded in Christian values, children at Mount Vernon will celebrate Christmas as the birth of Jesus Christ, our Savior. Each classroom will enjoy Christmas stories, games, crafts, sight and scent sensory experiences, family tradition shares, and discovery of traditions around the world.

Thursday, December 17
Holiday Pajama Day! Wear your favorite Holiday jammies (with closed-toe shoes), but remember we will still be going outside and getting dirty.

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

During this festive time of year, we 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 | x2001

Erin Carey
Director of Preschool | x2329

December 6: Week 18 Logistics

December 6, 2020

Dear Preschool Families,

December is here and so is the cold! Outside, however, continues to be the safest place for us to learn and play, 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.

One of our favorite things to do in the Preschool is a Learning Showcase. Empowering children and their teachers to show and tell what they have learned and experienced to an authentic audience is a rewarding experience. Of course, we miss the opportunity to invite you into our classrooms to see and hear about these discoveries in person and interact with our amazing students, but we hope you all saw the Virtual Learning Showcase posted in Kaymbu.

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 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 | x2001

Erin Carey
Director of Preschool | x2329

November 29: Week 17 Logistics

November 29, 2020

Dear Preschool 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, Preschool 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 project work and celebrate the season.

In gratitude,

Shelley Searcy
Head of Lower Campus | x2001

Erin Carey
Director of Preschool | x2329

November 15: Week 15 Logistics

November 15, 2020

Dear Preschool Families,

This past week offered rich opportunities for parent connections in the Preschool as family conferences concluded and our Preschool Parent University inspired us to create engaging projects at home. It is exciting to realize the family adventures that projects provide are grounded in brain science to accelerate emotional and intellectual growth. We hope you will try a project at home and share your adventure with us. Please continue to connect through our special topics series, “Talking to Your Kids about Race and Racism” on Tuesday, November 17 (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). 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.

In gratitude,

Shelley Searcy
Head of Lower Campus | x2001

Erin Carey
Director of Preschool | x2329

November 8: Week 14 Logistics

November 8, 2020

Dear Preschool Families,

It was fun to welcome our Preschoolers back as dinosaurs, firemen, unicorns, and superheroes on Monday! Though our parade looked a little different this year with all of our protocols in place, preschoolers’ smiles were still big and lots of fun was had.

Our teachers are enjoying their virtual conferences this week. It is rewarding to talk with you about your child’s progress from our first trimester and set some goals for continued growth. We appreciate your encouragement and support through this connection. Please make note of the upcoming Parent Universities explained below for more opportunities to learn and connect with us.

Preschool Conferences
Preschool Fall Conferences will continue through November 12. Please check your child’s classroom Kaymbu Storyboard for the specific date of your classroom’s conferences, and to find the SignUp Genius to schedule your own Zoom conference. These conferences are a great time to reconnect with your child’s classroom teachers, and we look forward to conversations about your child, their strengths and interests, and what we will be working on next. If you have any questions about conferences, please feel free to contact Erin Carey [email protected].

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.

Wednesday, November 11– Preschool Parent University: Creating Engaging Family Projects at Home
Doing projects with your children at home is a way for parents, grandparents, or care-givers to support children’s growth and development in fun ways. When children do a project about a topic of interest, they are invested in their own learning, and when children know you care about their learning, they are more likely to become eager learners. Together you can share something special. Join Erin Carey, Director of the Preschool, and Liz Aull, Preschool Learning Architect and Virtual Teacher, from 8:00-9:00 am, on Wednesday, November 11 via Zoom (passcode is preschool), to learn more about the Project Approach and how the practices we utilize at school can be translated into Projects at Home. We invite you to come, listen, learn, be inspired, and leave energized with the possibility of starting Projects at home with your little.

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). 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

In this season of gratitude and conferencing, we are so thankful for your willingness to participate and contribute to conversations about your children. We miss seeing your faces in person and the ability to connect on a daily basis, but are so thankful that you are sharing your children with us and that we can all work together to give them the best. Thank you for all that you do, and for being a part of our Mount Vernon Family.

Kind regards,

Shelley Searcy
Head of Lower Campus | x2001

Erin Carey
Director of Preschool | x2329

November 1: Week 13 Logistics

November 1, 2020

Dear Preschool Families,

What a fun, short week in Preschool! In addition to being engaged citizen leaders during election season, the holidays have started! Holidays are an exciting part of life in Preschool classrooms. Holidays allow children to understand more about their own family identity, group identity as a resident of the United States, their religious identity, and to mark the passage of the seasons of the year.

Holidays also encourage children to explore similarities and differences among families as we learn about family traditions. Discovering each other’s holidays and traditions expands upon their view of the world as a more diverse space. We will look forward to dressing up for Halloween on Monday for our Preschool Parade.

Preschool Conferences
Preschool Fall Conferences will be held between November 2 and November 12. Please check your child’s classroom Kaymbu Storyboard for the specific date of your classroom’s conferences, and to find the SignUp Genius to schedule your own Zoom conference. These conferences are a great time to reconnect with your child’s classroom teachers, and we look forward to conversations about your child, their strengths and interests, and what we will be working on next. If you have any questions about conferences, please feel free to contact Erin Carey [email protected].

Monday, November 2 — Halloween Spirit Day
Preschool students can wear Halloween spirit wear or a costume (no accessories, weapons, or costume masks).

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).

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. Preschool students (Twos – PK5) 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.

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). 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 extend the Halloween fun then begin to focus on the season of gratitude. We have so much to be thankful for this year. Tick tock, tick tock, remember to reset your clocks back for Daylight Savings!

Kind regards,

Shelley Searcy
Head of Lower Campus | x2001

Erin Carey
Director of Preschool | x2329

October 25: Week 12 Logistics

October 25, 2020

Dear Preschool Families,

As a school of impact, we continue to think about what it means to be an engaged citizen leader during this election season. Considering the social, emotional, moral, and spiritual parts of each child enables our students to experience the class community through norms, morning meeting, and play. We set the conditions for high engagement and encourage preschoolers to contribute their unique ideas, questions, and talents in order for the whole community to thrive. As we approach the end of the first trimester this week, we are grateful for the relationships that have been built and the progress that each child is making. Please make a note of the Parent University opportunity and the Halloween Spirit Day coming up this week.

Extended Play through 5:00
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
Preschool students can wear Halloween spirit wear or a costume (no accessories, weapons, or costume masks).

Friday, October 30 — No School for Students

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.

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 | x2001

Erin Carey
Director of Preschool | x2329

October 18: Week 11 Logistics

October 18, 2020

Dear Preschool Families,

Have you taken some opportunities to talk about our community, its leaders, and the right to vote with your Preschooler?

Research tells us that children see more, hear more, and experience more fully than adults. Their brains are constantly in the process of making connections among its many multisensory inputs. Children continually find ways to look at things from different viewpoints.

While it is not developmentally appropriate to ask Preschoolers to consider public policy and global issues, their skills of perception and orientation are developing now and will strengthen with the right environment, teaching, and experiences. Touching, tasting, and closely observing objects are important for our youngest children. Older learners need to climb high, observe from lying on the ground, and hang upside down. We learn lots from seeing the world through a child’s point of view, and we will continue to build opportunities for these skills to develop.

Extended Play through 5:00
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
Preschool students can wear Halloween spirit wear or a costume (no accessories, weapons, or costume masks).

Friday, October 30 — No School for Students

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.

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 | x2001

Erin Carey
Director of Preschool | x2329

October 11: Week 10 Logistics

October 11, 2020

Dear Preschool 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 Preschoolers enjoyed the beautiful weather, we welcomed a few new friends to the Preschool, and portrait day captured some precious smiles of happy children. We are grateful for another rich week of learning and play in the Preschool.

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 making decisions, casting a vote, and asking in-depth questions to better understand an issue or topic.

Preschool Schedule — Through October
Through October, the School will continue to remain open five days a week, while continuing to offer the Preschool afternoon option, with half-day Fridays – dismissal at 11:15.

Friday “Half-Days” for Preschool – Grade 1
Dismissal on Fridays through October will be 11:15. Note: Students will be joined by their older siblings who are in Grades 2-5.

Tuesday, October 13 — Extended Play through 5:00 Begins
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).

October 13-16 — Homecoming Week
MV Littles love to show their Mustang Spirit. Though COVID restrictions will prevent us from attending the game this year, please note the special dress days:

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

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.

Friday, October 30 — No School

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 Molly Collier as the Preschool 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 | x2001

Erin Carey
Director of Preschool | x2329

October 4: Week 9 Logistics

October 4, 2020

Dear Preschool Families,

Can you believe that October is already here? This month will offer some of the best learning experiences for your children during these formative years of development. Back-to-school routines have been mastered, confidence is high, and friendships have been strengthened. Now we are focused on building strong language development, numeracy skills, self-regulation strategies, and creativity. Your children are competent people who are thriving in our program which balances structure with spontaneity, provocations with play, and student-initiated with teacher-led.

Preschool Schedule — Through October
Through October, the School will continue to remain open five days a week, while continuing to offer the Preschool afternoon option, with half-day Fridays – dismissal at 11:15.

Early Preschool (Infants, Toddlers, and Twos)

  • Half day enrollees will be dismissed at 12:00.
  • Full day enrollees have the opportunity to stay until 3:00.

Preschool

  • PK3 and PK4: Students will attend their regular full day of school (8:00-12:00) with the option to participate in Extended Play until 3:00.
  • PK5: Students will attend their regular full day of school (8:00-1:30) with the option to participate in Extended Play until 3:00
  • If you are picking up your child outside of carpool times, please park and come to the building entrance, and we will retrieve your child and meet you outside. Please remember to wear your face covering.

Friday “Half-Days” for Preschool – Grade 1
Dismissal on Fridays through October will be 11:15. Note: Students will be joined by their older siblings who are in Grades 2-5.

Tuesday October 6 — Student Portraits (Twos-PK5)
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.

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 Through 5:00 Begins

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).

October 13-16 — Homecoming Week
MV Littles love to show their Mustang Spirit. Though COVID restrictions will prevent us from attending the game this year, please note the special dress days:

  • Tuesday: Tacky Tuesday (wear mismatched clothing, fun patterns, turn things inside out or backwards)
  • Wednesday: Crazy Hair/Hat Day
  • Thursday: Jersey Day (wear your favorite team’s jersey or tshirt)
  • 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 30 — No School
In September, we closely observed each students’ individual strengths in order to design the language, numeracy, and social-emotional experiences that will unfold in October. We look forward to sharing those experiences with you through Kaymbu, and we long for the day when you can be back in our classrooms to be more directly involved.

Kind regards,

Shelley Searcy
Head of Lower Campus | x2001

Erin Carey
Director of Preschool | x2329

September 27: Week 8 Logistics

September 27, 2020

Dear Preschool 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 Preschool team, and we look forward to applying our learning to make an impact on the Preschool experience.

Preschool Schedule — Through October 8

Through October, the School will continue to remain open five days a week, while continuing to offer the Preschool afternoon option, with half-day Fridays – dismissal at 11:15.

Early Preschool (Infants, Toddlers, and Twos)

  • Half day enrollees will be dismissed at 12:00.
  • Full day enrollees have the opportunity to stay until 3:00.

Preschool

  • PK3 and PK4: Students will attend their regular full day of school (8:00-12:00) with the option to participate in Extended Play until 3:00.
  • PK5: Students will attend their regular full day of school (8:00-1:30) with the option to participate in Extended Play until 3:00
  • If you are picking up your child outside of carpool times, please park and come to the building entrance, and we will retrieve your child and meet you outside. Please remember to wear your face covering.

Friday “Half-Days” for Preschool – Grade 1
Dismissal on Fridays through October will be 11:15. Note: Students will be joined by their older siblings who are in Grades 2-5.

Student Portraits (Twos-PK5)
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. 

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 | x2001

Erin Carey
Director of Preschool | x2329

September 20: Week 7 Logistics

September 20, 2020

Dear Preschool Families,

Though rainy, it was another great week in our Mount Vernon Preschool. Teachers stepped up and pitched in, bringing light to your children on Thursday morning. The creative thinking and solution skills we have on our team are to be celebrated and commended.

Curriculum Morning (Recap)
Recently, parents were invited to a virtual overview of what learning will look like in the Preschool this year. In case you missed it, or would like to review what to expect for your child throughout the year and how through play, children work through their understanding of the world around them, view the recorded loom session.

Preschool Schedule — Through the end of October

Through October, the School will continue to remain open five days a week, while continuing to offer the Preschool afternoon option, with half-day Fridays – dismissal at 11:15.

Early Preschool (Infants, Toddlers, and Twos)

  • Half day enrollees will be dismissed at 12:00.
  • Full day enrollees have the opportunity to stay until 3:00.

Preschool

  • PK3 and PK4: Students will attend their regular full day of school (8:00-12:00) with the option to participate in Extended Play until 3:00.
  • PK5: Students will attend their regular full day of school (8:00-1:30) with the option to participate in Extended Play until 3:00
  • If you are picking up your child outside of carpool times, please park and come to the building entrance, and we will retrieve your child and meet you outside. Please remember to wear your face covering.

Friday “Half-Days” for Preschool – Grade 1
Dismissal on Fridays through October will be 11:15. Note: Students will be joined by their older siblings who are in Grades 2-5.

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.

Thank you for equipping your students with their rainboots and jackets this week. We love to go outside and splash in puddles and take walks around campus for some fresh air even among the sprinkles.

Kind regards,

Shelley Searcy
Head of Lower Campus | x2001

Erin Carey
Director of Preschool | x2329

September 13: Week 6 Logistics

September 13, 2020

Dear Preschool Families,

We had a great short week in the Preschool, and we really enjoyed having some of our students stay in the afternoon for more learning and play until 3:00. We had an especially meaningful chapel on Friday to commemorate the heroes of September 11. We encourage you to talk with your child about the role of a hero in your life and empower your child to be a hero to someone in need.

Preschool Schedule — Through October 2

The School will continue to remain open five days a week and offer the Preschool more afternoon options through Friday, October 2.

Early Preschool (Infants, Toddlers, and Twos)

  • Half day enrollees will be dismissed at 12:00.
  • Full day enrollees have the opportunity to stay until 3:00.

Preschool

  • PK3 and PK4: Students will attend their regular full day of school (8:00 – 12:00) with the option to participate in Extended Play until 3:00.
  • PK5: Students will attend their regular full day of school (8:00 – 1:30) with the option to participate in Extended Play until 3:00
  • If you are picking up your child outside of carpool times, please park and come to the building entrance, and we will retrieve your child and meet you outside. Please remember to wear your face covering.

 

September 6: Prescreening Protocol

September 6, 2020

Dear Preschool Families,

This past week was filled with learning and growth for yourself, your children, and their teachers. Thank you for attending your grade level’s Curriculum Morning to get a glimpse of how teaching and learning happens in the Preschool. In addition to our continued commitment to helping your children feel connected, comfortable, and curious, our teachers have been engaged in vigorous math professional learning workshops focused on how to develop strong number sense in young children. Did you know that the best context to elicit mathematizing is through investigative thinking during daily life: sorting, shopping, cooking, or play? We encourage you to find opportunities explore the world of numbers with your child this week.

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-ScrePening video to assist you.

Preschool Schedule — Beginning September 8
The School will continue to remain open five days a week and offer the Preschool more afternoon options.

Early Preschool

  • Infants, Toddlers, and Twos who are enrolled half day will be dismissed at 12:00. Pick up will continue to be at the Preschool awning door. Please wait outside, and your child will meet you at the door. We ask that you not come into the building for afternoon pick up.
  • Infants , Toddlers, and Twos who are enrolled in full day options have the opportunity to stay until 3:00. Pick up will continue to be at the Preschool awning door.

Preschool

  • PK3 and PK4: Students will attend their regular full day of school (8:00 – 12:00) with the option to participate in Extended Play until 3:00.
  • PK5: Students will attend their regular full day of school (8:00 – 1:30) with the option to participate in Extended Play until 3:00.
  • We will run a 12:00 carpool, a 1:30 carpool, and a 3:00 carpool at the same location as morning drop off.
  • If you are picking up your child outside of the carpool times, please park and come to the building entrance, and we will retrieve your child and meet you outside. Please remember to wear your face covering.

Friday “Half-Days” for Preschool – Grade 1
Dismissal on Fridays through September will be 11:15. Note: Students will be joined by their older siblings who are in Grades 2-5.

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 Kaymbu, learn more about the other communication & information platforms.

We are looking forward to having Preschool students on campus until 3:00, and we are depending on your continued commitment to partnering with us to sustain our health and wellness protocols as we continue to increase hours and attendance next week.

Stay well,

Shelley Searcy
Head of Lower Campus | x2001

Erin Carey
Director of Preschool | x2329

 

August 30: Post Labor Day Plan

August 30, 2020

Dear Preschool Families,

Our time together back on campus has proven to be invaluable to our Preschool children. It has been fun to observe students’ new interests through listening to their questions, observing their play, and engaging in discussions. Teachers are using detailed documentation of experiences and ideas to guide and support rich learning. We want to continue to share these experiences with you and help you understand more of the Preschool’s approach to teaching and learning. Next week, we will be releasing pre-recorded Curriculum Morning videos to share an overview of our approaches and help you get excited about all that your child will be learning this year.

August 31-September 4

The Preschool schedule will continue to be 8:00 -11:45 through September 4. Morning drop off begins at 7:30 and afternoon pick up begins at 11:45.

Early Preschool

  • Beginning at 7:30, Infants, Toddlers, Twos, and one parent, will be screened before entering the building at the Early Preschool awning door.
  • Beginning at 11:45, pick up for Infants, Toddlers, and Twos will also be at the Preschool awning door. Please wait outside, and your child will meet you at the door. We ask that you not come into the building for afternoon pick up.

Preschool

  • Beginning at 7:30, PK3, PK4, and PK5 will be screened in the car at morning drop-off.
  • Beginning at 11:45, pick up for PK3, PK4, and PK5 will be at the same location as morning drop off. Please have your carpool number displayed.

Beginning September 8

The School will attempt to remain open five days a week and offer the Preschool more afternoon options.

Early Preschool

  • Infants, Toddlers, and Twos who are enrolled half day will be dismissed at 12:00. Pick up will continue to be at the Preschool awning door. Please wait outside, and your child will meet you at the door. We ask that you not come into the building for afternoon pick up.
  • Infants , Toddlers, and Twos who are enrolled in full day options have the opportunity to stay until 3:00. Pick up will continue to be at the Preschool awning door.

Preschool

  • PK3 and PK4: Students will attend their regular full day of school (8:00 – 12:00) with the option to participate in Extended Play until 3:00.
  • PK5: Students will attend their regular full day of school (8:00 – 1:30) with the option to participate in Extended Play until 3:00.
  • We will run a 12:00 carpool and a 3:00 carpool at the same location as morning drop off.
  • If you are picking up your child outside of the carpool times, please park and come to the building entrance, and we will retrieve your child and meet you outside. Please remember to wear your facial covering.

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

Kaymbu and Other Parent Communication Platforms 

In addition to Kaymbu, Preschool parents can stay connected to the broader MV community through several different platforms.

Kaymbu is an online platform and mobile app (Kaymbu for Parents) the Preschool uses to share with families the documentation of a child’s growth and learning through photos, captions, and other highlights. Photos and videos highlighting your child’s development will be sent frequently to maintain communication of what is happening at school. Weekly newsletter updates and other reminders will be pushed to parents through Kaymbu, either by email or text to the contacts provided during enrollment, or through the Kaymbu for Parents app. Also, progress reports for twice-yearly conferences will be created and shared through Kaymbu.

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

Blessings,

Shelley Searcy
Head of Lower Campus | x2001

Erin Carey
Director of Preschool | x2329

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.

August 16: Week 2 Logistics

August 16, 2020

Dear Preschool Families,

It is great to be a Preschooler! We are so proud of our friends for having their foreheads ready for screenings at morning carpool and starting the school day ready to learn. Additionally, the support and gratitude we have received from our families has been a big encouragement and is much appreciated. We join with you in celebrating a successful start to this school year.

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 community 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: Kaymbu

Kaymbu is an online platform and mobile app (Kaymbu for Parents) the Preschool uses to share with families the documentation of a child’s growth and learning through photos, captions, and other highlights. Photos and videos highlighting your child’s development will be sent frequently to maintain communication of what is happening at school. Weekly newsletter updates and other reminders will be pushed to parents through Kaymbu, either by email or text to the contacts provided during enrollment, or through the Kaymbu for Parents app. Also, progress reports for twice-yearly conferences will be created and shared through Kaymbu.

Health & Well-Being Reminders

  • If your child is experiencing any symptoms, please keep your child at home.
  • Everyone will be screened before entering the building. Anyone who does not pass the screening will be required to return home.
  • Everyone over the age of two is required to wear a mask.
  • Handwashing/sanitizing is required upon arrival and frequently throughout the day.
  • Visual cues will help us all practice physical distancing.
  • Homerooms will stay in their tight bubbles throughout the day.

Carpool/Building Entry

As a reminder, the Preschool day will be 8:00 -11:45 through September 4. Morning drop off begins at 7:30 and afternoon pick up begins at 11:45. Please wear your mask during carpool. We want to be able to safely communicate with you as needed. In morning carpool, families with Lower School siblings should drop the Lower School student off first, then continue around to Preschool carpool. In afternoon carpool, the Lower School student will join the Preschool sibling at 11:45 carpool.

Early Preschool

  • Beginning at 7:30, Infants, Toddlers, Twos, and one parent, will be screened before entering the building at the Early Preschool awning door.
  • Beginning at 11:45, pick up for Infants, Toddlers, and Twos will also be at the Preschool awning door. Please wait outside, and your child will meet you at the door. We ask that you not come into the building for afternoon pick up.

Preschool

  • Beginning at 7:30, PK3, PK4, and PK5 will be screened in the car at morning drop-off.
  • Beginning at 11:45, pick up for PK3, PK4, and PK5 will be at the same location as morning drop off. Please have your carpool number displayed.

Every summer teachers work hard to review the latest research on neuroscience and child development. We participate in community reads to deepen our understanding of new school initiatives. We attend workshops, redesign classrooms, and experiment with schedules. However, the lessons we have already learned from our students this year are some of the most valuable learnings one could ever have. We truly are better together.

Go Mustangs,

Shelley Searcy
Head of Lower Campus | x2001

Erin Carey
Director of Preschool | x2329

August 11: Week 1 Logistics and Orientation

August 11, 2020

Dear Preschool Families,

Our teachers have been hard at work preparing for your children to return. They have learned our new health & well-being protocols, reunited our team, and completed hours of training. Some of the professional learning topics included: Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Action; Creating Routines to Foster Independence; and “How to Talk to Kids about What is Different.” We are all feeling encouraged and inspired.

Our teachers really enjoyed the classroom meet and greets with their new class and the virtual parent-share conferences. Now, we are eager to welcome your children on campus and begin to reunite our broader Mount Vernon community. Whether the children are most excited about playtime on the Frontier, seeing friends, or meeting their teacher, we are committed to making it a great week. Our half days will be filled with moments to connect our students, spark new ideas, and remind children how much fun it is to come to school.

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 community 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 the first day of school.
  • Quick Reminders:
    • If your child is experiencing any symptoms, please keep your child at home.
    • Everyone will be screened before entering the building. Anyone who does not pass the screening will be required to return home.
    • Everyone over the age of two is required to wear a mask.
    • Handwashing/sanitizing is required upon arrival and frequently throughout the day.
    • Visual cues will help us all practice physical distancing.
    • Homerooms will stay in their tight bubbles throughout the day.

Carpool and Entering the Building

As a reminder, the Preschool day will be 8:00 -11:45 for the month of August. Morning drop off begins at 7:30 and afternoon pick up begins at 11:45. Please wear your mask during carpool. We want to be able to safely communicate with you as needed. In morning carpool, families with Lower School siblings should drop your Lower School student off first, then continue around to Preschool carpool. In afternoon carpool, the Lower School student will join the Preschool sibling at 11:45 carpool.

Early Preschool

  • Beginning at 7:30, Infants, Toddlers, Twos, and one parent, will be screened before entering the building at the Early Preschool awning door.
  • Beginning at 11:45, pick up for Infants, Toddlers, and Twos will also be at the Preschool Awning Door. Please wait outside, and your child will meet you at the door. We ask that you not come into the building for afternoon pick up.

Preschool

  • Beginning at 7:30, PK3, PK4, and PK5 will be screened in the car at morning drop-off.
  • Beginning at 11:45, pick up for PK3, PK4, and PK5 will be at the same location as morning drop off. Please have your carpool number displayed.

Health & Well-Being Reminders

  • If your child is experiencing any symptoms, please keep your child at home.
  • Everyone will be screened before entering the building. Anyone who does not pass the screening will be required to return home.
  • Everyone over the age of two is required to wear a mask.
  • Handwashing/sanitizing is required upon arrival and frequently throughout the day.
  • Visual cues will help us all practice physical distancing.
  • Homerooms will stay in their tight bubbles throughout the day.

Carpool/Building Entry

As a reminder, the Preschool day will be 8:00 -11:45 through September 4. Morning drop off begins at 7:30 and afternoon pick up begins at 11:45. Please wear your mask during carpool. We want to be able to safely communicate with you as needed. In morning carpool, families with Lower School siblings should drop the Lower School student off first, then continue around to Preschool carpool. In afternoon carpool, the Lower School student will join the Preschool sibling at 11:45 carpool.

Early Preschool

  • Beginning at 7:30, Infants, Toddlers, Twos, and one parent, will be screened before entering the building at the Early Preschool awning door.
  • Beginning at 11:45, pick up for Infants, Toddlers, and Twos will also be at the Preschool awning door. Please wait outside, and your child will meet you at the door. We ask that you not come into the building for afternoon pick up.

Preschool

  • Beginning at 7:30, PK3, PK4, and PK5 will be screened in the car at morning drop-off.
  • Beginning at 11:45, pick up for PK3, PK4, and PK5 will be at the same location as morning drop off. Please have your carpool number displayed.

Parent Communication: Kaymbu

Kaymbu is an online platform and mobile app (Kaymbu for Parents) the Preschool uses to share with families the documentation of a child’s growth and learning through photos, captions, and other highlights. Photos and videos highlighting your child’s development will be sent frequently to maintain communication of what is happening at school. Weekly newsletter updates and other reminders will be pushed to parents through Kaymbu, either by email or text to the contacts provided during enrollment, or through the Kaymbu for Parents app. Also, progress reports for twice-yearly conferences will be created and shared through Kaymbu.

Every summer teachers work hard to review the latest research on neuroscience and child development. We participate in community reads to deepen our understanding of new school initiatives. We attend workshops, redesign classrooms, and experiment with schedules. However, the lessons we have already learned from our students this year are some of the most valuable learnings one could ever have. We truly are better together.

Go Mustangs,

Shelley Searcy
Head of Lower Campus | x2001

Erin Carey
Director of Preschool | x2329

 

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 - PS Back-to-School Plan

Dear Early Preschool/Preschool Families,

In April, we were optimistically planning back-to-school parties on the Frontier and in May we finally started to realize the magnitude of this pandemic. However, I never imagined the School would still be faced with such difficult decisions for August. But here we are.

Protecting our teachers and our youngest learners, 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 your children to return. However, we are cautiously realistic about the transition this will be for our students, teachers, and families, and having a successful start to the year is of paramount importance.

Returning to Mount Vernon on August 12 brings excitement for the familiar things we love about Preschool – friends, laughter, play-based learning, and Kaymbu posts. We will also be introducing young children to their new teachers, classmates, and classrooms as well as health and well-being protocols such as screenings, face coverings, and physical distancing.

Class Lists
On August 4, class lists will be released via Kaymbu. You will receive this information via the email address that you provided during enrollment, and can also receive these updates through the “Kaymbu for Parents” app available for your phone in the AppStore or wherever you purchase your mobile apps.

Orientation

  • Pre-recorded videos introducing classroom teachers, giving a virtual tour of the classroom, and walking through carpool procedures and protocols will be provided throughout the week of August 3-7.
  • Virtual family-share conferences will be held on August 7 to begin building strong relationships between each family and their child’s teachers – this time is suggested to be for adults rather than children.
  • A virtual meet and greet for each classroom will be scheduled for Monday, August 10 in order to introduce children to their teachers and classmates – this is when we would love for your child to participate!

First Day of Preschool: August 12

Weeks 1 – 4: August 12 – September 4

Being away for five months, implementing quality control health and well-being protocols, and recognizing the current health environment we are in, Early Preschool and Preschool will adhere to an adjusted schedule for the first four weeks of school, reducing the total number of students on-campus at any given time.

  • Early Preschool and Preschool will attend classes in-person Monday through Friday with an adjusted schedule of 8:00-11:45.
  • Beginning August 12, morning carpool will occur between 7:30-8:00 and afternoon carpool will begin at 11:45.
  • Extended Play will not be available for Preschool students in August (except for MV staff).

Teaching & Learning

The first four weeks for Preschool 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 within a small, defined bubble
  • Health and well-being protocols and classroom routines
  • Foundational skills and developmental milestones
  • Observation and assessment of student’s development to guide lesson planning

Virtual Option. For PK3, PK4, and PK5 students who elect to learn virtually, we will work with each family to design a personalized and developmentally appropriate learning experience while away from campus. Due to developmental needs, there is not a virtual learning option for Infants, Toddlers, and Twos classes. If you would like for your child(ren) to participate in virtual learning, 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

Erin Carey
Director of Preschool