James River Day School

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Head Lines: Sept. 3, 2020

For the teachers, preparing for this year has included extra planning, professional development, and creativity. But despite the preparation, there have been certain unavoidable realities we have all had to face. One of those realities is that teaching in a pandemic requires a tremendous amount of extra effort, much more than during a normal school year. We have restructured student schedules to keep students in limited, smaller cohorts. This helps mitigate the risks, but it also means our teachers have less time for planning and virtually no breaks during the day. As has always been the case, the faculty have risen to the challenge, but it quickly became clear to me that the workload they have been forced to take on is unsustainable.

Understanding the situation and knowing that the faculty are critical to the functioning of the school, I took action immediately to help reduce their workload and stress. I have called upon our Substitute Coordinator, Erica Lemasters, and a new hire, Ann Shenigo, to dedicate themselves to faculty support.
 
Erica Lemasters has a B.S. from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Over the past ten years, she has served as a teaching assistant, substitute teacher, and preschool teacher. Both her children attend James River, and Erica has volunteered at the school regularly. Now, she coordinates substitute teachers as needed and helps provide much needed breaks for our faculty on a daily basis. Her enthusiasm and cheerful disposition elicit smiles wherever she goes.

Ann Shenigo has a B.A. in elementary education from Sacred Heart University. She comes to us from Holy Cross Regional Catholic School, where she taught for more than 20 years. She brings a depth and breadth of experience and a wonderfully calm, approachable manner to providing faculty members, and thus our students, with the support they need.
 
These two ladies will be taking lunch duty for the teachers on a rotating schedule, allowing teachers a much needed break. They will also be available during the day to allow teachers to plan or meet as necessary. This is just one more step towards creating an environment for success during these challenging times. Please join me in welcoming Erica and Ann.
 
One of the features of the COVID-19 pandemic is that things are constantly changing. New research results and perspectives are daily occurrences. This constant state of change is disconcerting, to say the least, and anxiety producing for virtually all of us. However, while uncertainty abounds, we can get comfort from knowing that we are all in this together. All of us have been impacted by COVID-19, and we each must remember to rely not just upon our own strengths and capacities, but on those of our teammates: parents, students, teachers, and staff. Please continue to wear a mask, keep your social distance, and avoid large group gatherings.
 
And thank you for your overwhelming support.
 
Peter H. York
Head of School