COVID-19 has impacted every part of our lives — how we work, how we interact with others, how we teach and learn, and more. From the rapid transition to remote learning this past spring to the uncertainty of fall, preparing for both in-person and remote learning, our teachers have navigated uncharted territory for months. But one constant is their steadfast commitment to providing a safe learning environment where every Admiral feels a sense of belonging and is known and valued. Leading with that promise, our teachers spent the summer in remote professional development workshops, classes, and conference sessions to help their students thrive in this time of tremendous change.
mySevern is the online hub of Severn School. It is designed to make teaching, learning, and communicating easier by connecting all of our digital tools and resources into one interactive platform — everything from academic classes and advisory groups to clubs and counseling services. For families, it is also a central location to submit forms, access grades, manage accounts, and stay up-to-date on school news and events. And this past spring, when our campuses closed due to COVID-19, mySevern enabled us to hit the ground running during remote learning.
The end of the year is always a busy time at Severn. As students finalize projects, take exams, give presentations and get ready for the next big step, our faculty and staff plan celebrations to mark important milestones in our students’ lives. Each ceremony gives our community a moment to reflect on all that we have accomplished this year and in years past. Although unable to gather physically due to the COVID-19 shutdown, we recreated these occasions on Zoom with every resource possible, including student performances and speeches, heartfelt messages from faculty, and even an in-person (properly distanced!) diploma ceremony for our seniors. Things looked a little different, true. But the unfaltering love for and from our community couldn’t have shined any brighter.
Each semester, our Lower School student council takes on a service-learning project to support our global or local communities. Part of our leadership program for second through fifth graders, it’s a chance for young students to develop advocacy and organization skills — thinking outside of themselves to make positive change. Most recently, the council wrote thank you notes to Severn parents and alumni who work in healthcare and are dealing with the stress and challenges presented by COVID-19.
It has fast become a tradition for our kindergarten and first-grade students to visit Teel Campus and deliver homemade letters of advice for seniors during their last few weeks of school. It is a beloved event for our community — a bookend to the year that begins with those same students paired together for Convocation. And although we are in remote learning mode, the tradition carries on thanks to our dedicated faculty and students. This past Thursday on Zoom, we watched the kids’ faces light up as over 160 Severn Admirals joined our virtual celebration — we are grateful to each and every one.
Guest article by Teel Campus Associate Librarian Ms. Diana Ford
Remote learning presented a new challenge for the Battle of the Books 2020, for participants and organizers alike. Typically, students from area schools meet together for this quiz-bowl competition that digs into a fantastic selection of books for young readers. This year, the tournament was virtual. And although the teams couldn’t meet in person, the event proved that our students have a passion for reading (and competing!) no matter the format.
Fitness is a big part of daily life at Severn School. From PE classes and recess to sports teams and clubs, being active and outdoors is something we greatly value in every grade. In addition to the proven physical and mental health benefits of exercise, fitness teaches lessons in character, teamwork, perseverance, safe risk-taking, self-confidence, and more. And although we are not physically on campus together, our values haven’t changed. Severn teachers, coaches, and athletic trainers are keeping us healthy and active during remote learning, raising our collective spirits with creativity, commitment, and love for the kids.
Word problems can be intimidating for even the most confident math students. The language is typically complicated and students often don't understand exactly what is being asked. To help our 5th graders tackle word problems and equations with ease, “math missionary” Greg Tang invited Severn to a Zoom workshop last week. The group used number relationships and visual models to make better sense of seemingly complicated math.
The past several weeks have been a storm of uncertainty, presenting challenges that many of us have never faced before. But like a beacon of light through the fog, we find direction and strength in our community. Starting with meetings in early March and through spring break, our faculty and staff worked tirelessly to ensure that we deliver our promise of excellence to families and students while our physical buildings are closed. Wednesday, April 1st, 2020 marked the first official day of comprehensive remote learning for our Lower, Middle and Upper School students. As we navigate through this together, we grow stronger in every way.
Written by Carolyn Campion for the Alchemy issue of The Bridge (abridged version)
For many, the word alchemy conjures up images of wizards, potions and magic. It is the medieval forerunner of chemistry whose practitioners once aimed to convert base metals into gold. But by another definition, alchemy can be viewed as any process through which change or evolution occurs in a seemingly magical and impressive way. Throughout our 105-year history, education at Severn School has continually and intentionally evolved to keep pace in an ever-changing society. What are the elements, the alchemical ingredients, that have helped transform education at Severn into gold?
What makes someone an author? Writing and sharing your stories! Last week, award-winning children’s book author Erica S. Perl took our preschool through second-grade students on a journey through her life as a writer and into the captivating (and hilarious!) characters in her books. With a positive and sincere message, she encouraged our young students to read everything and share their stories no matter how big or small.
Students today are growing up as digital natives — immersed in technology throughout their entire lives. Adults often marvel at how quickly young people pick up a device or app and start using it right away. And complex technology is increasingly designed for the casual user. Anyone can build a website or create a professional-looking video from the palm of their hand. New kid-centric social media apps and games seem to pop up daily. But with that widespread ease of use comes even greater responsibility to teach the kinds of lessons that an app never will. As technology jumps lightyears ahead with advances around every corner, we return to the word “character” that has lived in our mission for over a hundred years.