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CVA Journal

May 25, 2020
 

CVA family and friends,

The ending of any school year merits time spent on review and reflection, but this year more so than any other.  But instead of reflecting on the typical end-of-year matters and planning for next year, I choose to pause and express my utmost gratitude for the staff at Carbon Valley Academy with whom I have been so blessed to work.  I would be remiss if I did not also acknowledge the tremendous support of our parents, guardians, and grandparents who stepped up to support their students through this trying time.  Thank you, we could not have done it without you!  

The last two and a half months have been extremely challenging for our students, our families, and our community.  The staff at CVA rose immediately to meet those challenges head-on and kept on meeting them until the end.  They were rewarded Friday morning with an outpouring of appreciation and love shown by our students and families at a drive-through parade that is indicative of the relationship we have together.  The attached pictures and videos here or on our Facebook page tell the story of our success better than a thousand words, and certainly better than any words I might offer. 

So I end the 2019-2020 school year with immense pride in this amazing group of teachers, paraprofessionals, and support staff of which I am fortunate to lead.  If your experience in other schools these past few months have not been what you would have liked or expected it to be, please know that we would gladly welcome you into ours.

 

Parade Picture Parade Picture Parade Picture Parade Picture
May 8, 2020

 

As parents of a CVA student, our family’s lives, like so many others, changed drastically, seemingly overnight. The daily routines we had been conducting since August were no more. First came the announcement of an extended spring break, followed by the announcement of a transition to a virtual/online learning format, finally the decision that there would be no more in person school for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. The array of emotions our family experienced as these announcements came was wide, as to be expected. However, as a member of the CVA Board of Directors and more importantly, as a parent of a second grader at CVA, I speak on behalf of our entire family, when I say we could not be more impressed with how the CVA community has come together and made a very, very impressive transition from “classroom learning” to what I call “living room learning.”

When the breaks were suddenly put on their lesson plans and in person learning came to a crashing halt, CVA’s teachers came together, shifted gears and changed directions in just two weeks’ time. During this unprecedented time, Executive Director, Ms. Janet Wyatt and her leadership team have ensured that the mission, vision, and core beliefs of CVA have not been left behind and have been carried over to this never before seen way of having to educate our children virtually. One core belief in particular comes to mind.

Carbon Valley Academy provides a classroom and school culture that creates the best learning environment for students through high expectations of student discipline and character.

Sure, the classroom is now virtual, over Zoom and Google Classroom, but CVA’s teachers are still doing what they do best, fostering top notch learning environments for our students. Expectations are still high, as students are expected to be on daily Zoom meetings with their primary teachers and peers. To my knowledge, most schools are operating in a sort of maintain mode if you will and not presenting students with any new material. CVA continues to set the bar higher than the rest, with teachers still presenting new material to their classes. That’s impressive.

Part of CVA’s mission is to, “provide rich content and solid skills instruction...” Again, CVA is excelling in this area. They are succeeding even with the inherent challenges presented in an online learning format. In addition to grade level learning, CVA continues to offer students Spanish, technology, music, PE and art (teacher on maternity leave). All these teachers have also been very creative and successful with delivering quality instruction in their respective areas via Google Classroom. 

The emphasis on character development, alongside academics, is a big part of why we chose to be a part of the CVA family. Students are having to be courageous and persevere. They’ve been tasked with more responsibility and autonomy with their school work. Naturally increasing their work ethic. They’ve shown unmatched levels of honesty, humility, respect, compassion and patriotism. CVA students are the best. 

When asked his opinion on online learning at CVA, our son says, “I really like it. I still get to see my teacher and friends every day. Google Classroom is really cool too. We have been doing lots of fun things. This is the next best thing.” I could not agree with him more. The CVA community, leadership team, teachers and staff have come together, doing an amazing job in times none of us have ever seen nor ever expected to see. We are so proud to call CVA home. Go Stallions!  

Jessica Shouse, Mother of a CVA Student & Director, Board of Directors 

   

Less Homework, More Heartwork


One month ago, our world was shaken.  I had no idea that saying goodbye to my students on Thursday, March 12th, would be the last time we would be together for the year.  As I sit and reflect back on that day, I’m overcome with emotions.  Like most, the reason I teach is simple: to love, reach, grow, and connect with kids.  It’s the best part of the job, yet it feels like that is slipping away due to COVID-19. 


Fast forward a month, and I’m still in awe of where we are today.  As a school and community, we have overcome barriers that seemed impossible.  There are still many challenges to face, but seeing those sweet little fourth grade faces each and every morning on Zoom has made it all okay.  How lucky are we that the connection hasn’t been lost, and dare I say, it has strengthened over this past month.  We have gotten to see each other in a different light, and it’s been truly special and a joy to share.  As a unit, rather than focusing on the uncertainty, we are choosing to find good and beauty within the chaos. 


We are experiencing a “first” in the education world.  Your students are becoming part of history and have already learned so much that only this experience could teach them.  Students are not only learning academically, but are also building their character.  So many times, we take things for granted.  We get caught up in everyday life and lose sight of important things, due to complacency.  We have been given this opportunity to reset.  This is by far the biggest “test” for our school community, but fortunately, we are strong, we will get through this, and we will be better because of it.  


I’d like to share something that was shared with me by a fellow teacher:


“What if instead of falling behind, these groups of kids are ADVANCED because of this?


What if they have more empathy, they enjoy family connection, they can be more creative and entertain themselves, they love to read, and they love to express themselves in writing.


What if they enjoy the simple things, like their own backyard, and sitting near a window in the quiet.


What if they notice the birds and the dates the different flowers emerge, and the calming renewal of a gentle rain shower.


What if this generation is the one to learn to cook, organize their space, do their laundry, and keep a well run home.


What if they learn to stretch a dollar and to live with less.


What if they learn to plan shopping trips and meals at home.


What if they learn the value of eating together as a family and finding the good to share in the small delights of the everyday.


What if they are the ones to place great value on our teachers and educational professionals, librarians, public servants, and the previously invisible essential support workers like truck drivers, grocers, cashiers, custodians, logistics, and health care workers and their supporting staff, just to name a few of the millions taking care of us right now while we are sheltered in place.


What if among these children, a great leader emerges who had the benefit of a slower pace and simpler life to truly learn what really matters in this life.


What if they are actually AHEAD?” 


They may be getting less homework, but there is definitely more heartwork happening. I couldn’t be more proud to be part of the CVA family who has come together to make virtual learning possible.  We are giving our best because our students, families, and community deserve that.  We will get through this together because we are CVA strong.

 
We want to share our school with you, so please take a moment to text 'CVA' to 474747, or send an email to me hailey.palmieri@cvamail.com and I would be happy to give you more information about our school. 
 

One of the greats Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Strength does not come from physical capacity.  It comes from an indomitable will.”  These words have really stood out to me these last couple of months, especially looking at what we have been able to accomplish at CVA.  


When I came to Carbon Valley as a teacher, I did so with the mindset that I wanted to work at a school that put their students first, encouraged growth mindset, challenged not only the students, and the teachers, but also the administration to never accept less than the absolute best.  I wanted to find a school that felt like more than just a school, but a community, a family.  Between our character traits, rigorous curriculum, and our motto work hard, be nice I found what I was looking for.


Fast forward to these, most amazingly different times we are experiencing, and I have seen first hand as both a teacher and a dean in the school how our community, our family, has stepped up.  My first worry, along with the other teachers in our school was about our students and our families and making sure they were all okay.  As a teacher I have had to learn the right balance; where I progress my students forward, while not overwhelming them, and also caring for their social-emotional well being.  I have had to create an environment that closely resembled “normal” to help them maintain some control in their now turned upside down world.  I honestly worried if I was equipped to take this on, because I myself had to learn a totally new format and way to teach, and I had a very short time to do it in.  I, and I feel confident saying this about all of our teachers, used the time we had during our two week spring break, to figure it all out.  And that is exactly what we all did.  On Monday March 30th, when spring break ended, I was ready to go with a brand new unit, a way to teach it, and a plan to keep my students engaged, active, and learning.  It was my desire to not just redo what we had already done this school year, or just give them busy work to keep them occupied, but to actually challenge them and give them new material that would help them be ready for the next school year.  I couldn’t be more pleased or impressed by all of the teachers at CVA and all we have accomplished in a very short period of time.  


We have been distance learning now for a little over 4 weeks, and my students have already moved on to their next unit.  My students, much like the teachers in our school, have stepped up to the challenges of our new normal and are still meeting my expectations in the class, our school’s expectations of rigor, and our communities expectations of good strong character.  I knew three years ago when I interviewed that I had to become a part of this community, this family.  I knew then how special CVA was, how different it was, and how impactful it would be to me and to the students inside it.  I am proud to work at CVA, I am proud of the teachers, administrators, and support staff.  I am proud of our students, and families.  We have the indomitable will to get us through this, and anything else that might come our way, because we really are #CVAStrong!


I would be very happy to speak to you more about our program and how our school can meet your child’s academic, and character needs!  Please do not hesitate to email me sara.asher@cvamail.com or text ‘CVA’ to 474747 for more information about how our school can help you!       

We are experiencing a time that we have only read about in history books. The current situation in our world and community affects everyone differently. With so many changes and challenges to face, we can be thankful that education remains a priority. Although different, students at Carbon Valley Academy are still learning from their dedicated teachers. The teachers at CVA worked tirelessly throughout their entire spring breaks to turn their face-to-face curriculum into digital learning experiences for their students. Our students were online and engaging with their teachers and classrooms in a live setting as soon as spring break ended and school was scheduled to resume.


Now that we are weeks into distance learning, I would like to recognize the hard work of the CVA teachers. In times like these, social interactions are just as important as academic learning. With fun themed days during spirit week, our community remained connected. Teachers are providing daily lessons in language arts and math that are recorded in advance which allows students to rewind and rewatch. In addition to providing daily lessons, CVA teachers are using their daily live sessions to provide students with opportunities for discussion with their peers, again exemplifying the importance of social contacts and interactions. Furthermore, teachers are providing students with opportunities for lunches with classmates by setting up live sessions. Recently, Carbon Valley Academy has purchased more chromebooks in an effort to provide technology devices to our families who currently are without.


Our character traits are still alive and well even through distance learning. CVA recently honored our character trait award winners for work ethic and friendship in a virtual award ceremony. The winners were sent their awards in the mail. With the challenging times ahead, our character traits remain important, specifically the next two that are our focus: perseverance and compassion. It is the goal of CVA to form well rounded members of our community.


For more information text CVA to 474747 or contact Catherine Linhardt by email at catherine.linhardt@cvamail.com

Finally, a chance to catch my breath!  To say that this past month has been a whirlwind of uncertainty is an understatement.  During this time, I’ve experienced a variety of emotions just like I imagine you have. I am saddened by not seeing our students come in with their backpacks and water bottles and lunchboxes. Lately when I’ve gone into the building it’s been so quiet, desolate even.  But what gives me comfort in those moments of stillness is knowing that, while not perfect perhaps, my teachers are providing your children with quality instruction.

Like every school around us we had no idea when we left on that Thursday we would not be back.  What I want you to know is that your child’s teacher didn’t miss a beat! They came to the school, gathered their materials, went home and got down to work in order to be prepared for our new temporary normal. 

And we were!  First thing Monday we were up and running with online learning and we haven’t stopped.  During the last week I’ve seen so many beautiful pictures of your kids smiling and laughing with their classmates and teachers.  I’ve seen and talked to, virtually of course, all the staff on our weekly Zoom meetings. Our board of directors has also begun weekly virtual meetings to make sure all involved are working together.  In all these meetings I see people dedicated, truly dedicated, to the students of Carbon Valley Academy.  We have had challenging conversations, great collaboration and amazing creativity that may not have happened if we did not find ourselves in these uncharted waters.  But do you know what I haven’t seen or heard? A single complaint. No one has complained about having to give up spring break to prepare or about having to learn new technology skills that maybe they didn’t have or any of the other myriad of obstacles they are overcoming daily.  I’m serious: Not one complaint!  

I shouldn’t be surprised really.  Since coming to CVA last July the staff welcomed me into this amazing family.  I know I do things a little differently than what they were used to, but when I ask something of them, it gets done.   And I guess that’s what I want you to know: At Carbon Valley Academy, we get the job done. Every. Single. Day. I could not be prouder of this group of teachers, paraprofessionals, and support staff.  

And so, if you’re not already a part of the Carbon Valley Academy family, I would encourage you to check us out.  We offer a rigorous academic program with an additional focus on character education. Next year, we will be adding elements of S.T.E.A.M curriculum to our existing programming.

Give me a chance to show you around and talk more about who we are and what we do.  You won’t be disappointed!

Janet