Dear St. James’ Family,
I feel like Pig Pen in the old “Peanuts” comic strip with a big cloud of dirt swirling around my head! The renovation of a school is a much bigger bear than I ever thought it would be…and we’re having a devil of a time wrestling that bear to the ground. Delays in plan check held up construction by almost a month, which was compounded by a slowdown in issuing permits. The most recent catastrophe was a water main break that has now resisted three attempts at triage. We’re still not certain we’re done with it. Then there was a review of our mechanical systems that left us with no alternative but to tear out the gerrymandered tangle of past electrical repairs and rewire every room in the school.
Now, with shiny new conduits and adequate electrical and data cabling finally in place, we are nearly ready to begin the work we were scheduled to complete three weeks ago. Noise complaints from the neighbors have resulted in the city demanding the strictest adherence to the stated hours of construction so we cannot sneak even squeeze in one more hour of work at the end of the day to hasten the completion date. We are already working every Saturday; and all construction work is prohibited on Sundays.
Reading between the lines, you are probably waiting for the other shoe to drop…and here it comes. Mark your calendars for Monday the 11th of September as our NEW opening day of school.
Although that’s only three days after our previously announced opening day, it seems like an eternity. I so regret that you’ll have to find childcare for three extra days. We wish we could help you out, but until the certificate of occupancy is issued, no one but the construction workers can be on campus. Furniture will be assembled the week before we open, professional movers will empty the PODS on the blacktop, and even with the three-day extension teachers will have only a day (if they’re lucky) to settle their classrooms and decorate their bulletin boards. My new office space will be ready in January or February; so until then I’ll roam the halls of the school like Marley’s ghost, dragging my laptop behind me. On the bright side, it’s more time to spend with the kids!
Elizabeth Desmarais and Hilary Rodgers are putting the finishing touches on the Teaching and Learning Institute even as we speak, a four-year professional development initiative developed to help our teachers identify common professional language, craft common goals, master more current pedagogy and a create an atmosphere more conducive to intellectual inquiry and collaborative learning. Internationally renowned consultant Paula Rutherford is bringing her expertise to us for 16 days this year, securing our understandings and coaching us to ever more effective teaching strategies. It’s going to be a transformative experience, four years in the making. And in the end, our teaching will be as polished as the floors and walls of the beautiful, newly renovated home that will be the new St. James’ School.
This letter is accompanied by a few pages of photos and introductions to some of the new faces you will see this year at St. James’. Meanwhile, four of our beloved teachers are in the final stages of their pregnancies and awaiting the birth of a new son or daughter. Please keep Linda, Chitra, Erika from the preschool, and our Kindergarten teacher Eura in your thoughts and prayers. We can hardly wait to introduce you to the newest members of the St. James’ family, whether they are the newly hired professionals, or our latest progeny fresh from the arms of the angels.
Please send me your questions and concerns, your complaints, and your utter frustrations to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll try to consolidate the avalanche of comments and answer as economically as I can to the group rather than to individuals in order to keep working to open our school.
With sincere apologies,
Head of School