Below is an email sent to our Early Childhood families on July 20, 2021, from Head of School Maura Joyce and Early Childhood Director Miriam Winton.
Dear Primary and YCC Families,
As we head into the 2021–22 school year, we are excited to announce some changes to our programs that we feel will serve the needs of our students in the Primary and Young Children’s Community.
There were many lessons we learned throughout last year as we conducted our Montessori program during a pandemic. We were challenged to create a distance learning program, restructured schedules to keep students in cohorts, and adjusted to life wearing masks, among other things. We learned what did work and what did not work. This crisis provided us the opportunity to assess what ways we can provide the best care for your children. As such, with enthusiastic support from our teachers and staff, we have made the following changes to our Early Childhood programs.
All Day Primary Classrooms
Our students who spend the full day with us at Post Oak have previously had to make several transitions―lunch, nap, and after-school activities took place in different places, and over 35 students from six different classes were placed together in our Primary Home Environment (PHE). During the pandemic, we added staff to each Primary classroom in order to have the children stay in one environment all day. Teachers and staff immediately saw the benefit of this change, which provided our young children consistency of environment and opportunities to return to their work in the late afternoon. Students were more engaged, less distracted by so many transitions, and community bonds were strengthened.
Beginning next year
- All Primary children who stay for lunch will continue to eat in their classroom.
- Napping children will be either in their own classroom, the pod outside their room, or in the Primary nap room (see below).
- Three Primary classrooms (Orly Kluk, Peggy Larrow, Karyn Smith) will be extended day rooms, staffed with three adults, and open through 5:30 p.m.
- Students in the other classrooms (Landon Bagby, Cynthia Blessman, Tamara Townsend) who stay for an extended day will join one of the three extended day classes after 3:30 p.m.
- Afternoon groups (3:30–5:30 p.m.) will be limited to 15 students each.
Next year will serve as a bridge year for this program, and we will make adjustments along the way. Some of our students will still have to transition to an extended day room after 3:00 p.m.; however, they will do so alongside familiar faces, and the number of students in their afternoon group will be much lower.
New YCC Classroom Added
The elimination of one large PHE class makes room for an additional YCC classroom. In January 2022, Post Oak will open a second half-day YCC classroom. We are thrilled to announce that Elizabeth Dickson will be teaching this new class. Elizabeth has Montessori training, experience as a Primary teacher and a substitute, and will be covering Rebecca Duran’s maternity leave the first half of the fall semester. When Rebecca returns, Elizabeth will begin to prepare her environment for her new YCC students in January.
To facilitate this change, we are relocating a few teachers and their students to new classroom spaces, and we are maximizing the talents of our Primary and YCC support staff. Your child will continue to be with their same teacher as assigned. We will inform you of any support staffing changes to your child’s classroom in the coming weeks. Orly Kluk’s class will move into the East Pod to use the former PHE space. Landon Bagby’s class will move into Orly Kluk’s former space in the West Pod. The new half-day YCC class will be located in Landon Bagby’s former space, which will also serve as a Primary nap room.
We are looking forward to the next school year and the changes we will implement to provide the best for your students. And we can’t wait to see you at the Primary walk-through on Friday, August 20 starting at 9:00 a.m.
Please feel free to reach out to Miriam Winton with any questions.