At the beginning of the 2019-20 school year, senior Callie Morgan decided to document her final year at GFA for her Advanced Arts Seminar Project. Little did the world know, she would be documenting a special, extremely different moment in time than anyone had expected. In this culminating project, she writes a video letter to the treasured Class of 2020.
Distance Learning at GFA
Together, we embark on one of the most challenging (and we hope rewarding) journeys in our almost 100-year history: distance learning. Our faculty and staff have responded with an incredible sense of creativity and urgency and developed virtual learning programs that feature engagement, growth, creativity, and connectedness. Our goals during this window are for our students to continue benefiting from a world-class GFA education, to find comfort and structure in the school routine, and to maintain connections with each other and with their teachers.
- We will commit to creating opportunities to foster community.
- We’re going to continue building skills for our students to ensure their success next year and beyond.
- We will keep our students engaged in the learning process.
- We will meet your family where you are right now with an appropriate amount of flexibility.
By Clare Foley '20
Although senior year has been cut short, we still want to celebrate all the amazing accomplishments our class has made. Congratulations, Greens Farms Academy Class of 2020!
Olivia Marshall '20 shares her final speech as the 2019-20 Student Council Chair. Marshall says, "All of us are a part of history. We will look back on the year 2020 and be proud of our hard work and success during this time. We all have left our mark and legacy."
The GFA Class of 2027 came together for one message of hope — clad with surprise, congratulatory messages from their fifth-grade teachers!
Spencer Henske '21 shares his experience with distance learning and his initiative to help elderly communities in the tristate area via letters, short stories, poetry, artwork, cards, and more.
With social distancing in place, theatre seniors and Director of Theatre Programs gathered for one last photo in the Performing Arts Center, honoring both their love and commitment of theatre throughout their Upper School experience.
Led by conductor Mr. Hisey, the 7/8 Orchestra presents "Allstar."
The GFA 7/8 Orchestra proudly presents All Star — from a distance!
By Avery Woodworth '22
The sun was radiant one Wednesday afternoon for a reason, although I didn’t know the reason for a while. The short blades of grass and the blooming hydrangeas planted beneath the window of my father’s office danced in the gentle breeze, and the flitting birds had a cheerful, even jubilant note in their songs.
By Jordan Liu '20
A couple of houses down the street, an overworked garage door groans, and out of the garage barrels a crusty red Toyota Camry. Though the windshield is stained with yellow pollen, it is clear that the driver is wearing a white cloth face mask and purple latex gloves. Hardly a surprise.
By Norelisa Nascimento '20
If I could, I would set up sixty-eight more chairs for each of my senior classmates. I try to stay hopeful for the day I get to hug all of them again, which seems like a heartwarming dream. With every stir, the embers come back to life. Don’t let the fire die.
By Jack Ramsay '20
The ZipChip feels like a soft hug around my gloved finger, and as I release it I’m generously offering the hug to my friend’s gloved finger, and he continues the train of affection to the next receiver. It’s a sanitary expression of longing and recognition.
By Callie Morgan '20
Whatever the reason, I always felt the need to multitask. I passed the time listening to a podcast for history class or FaceTiming a friend, AirPods always in, head always down. It felt wrong to be without my phone this time, but I knew that we needed some time apart, so I persevered.
- I’ve heard that distance learning is challenging. How can I prepare myself?
- What will a typical distance learning schedule look like?
- How do I set up my child for success in these unique times?
- How do I create an appropriate workspace in my home?
- What parental involvement is required and/or desired?
- How much independent work will teachers assign?
- What time will distance learning begin?
- What should I do if my child is struggling with a course, lesson, or concept?
- My Lower School student loves specials, will there be assignments from all teachers?
- What about athletics, arts, and other extracurricular interests my Upper and Middle School child enjoys?
- How will my Lower School child(ren) know what work to do?
- How will assessments be handled in all three divisions?
- Will my child(ren) have regular contact with teachers?
- What will grading look like in distance learning?
- What if my child left his/her textbooks in his/her locker? Will they be needed to complete online work?
- Does my child need to be in school dress code for distance learning?
- Lower School After School Clubs
- What is the protocol if my child is sick and needs to miss a day of distance learning?
- What should we do if we are having difficulty with technology?
- What’s the best way to take care of the school-issued iPads and laptops?
Access to PowerSchool
Lower School: Using iPads
Lower School: Video: Logging into Seesaw
Middle & Upper School: Distance Learning Prep and Troubleshooting
The Big Debate: Synchronous vs. Asynchronous Distance Learning
As more schools have engaged in distance learning, we've had the opportunity to learn from their work. One of the biggest debates that seems to exist is between "synchronous" (working in time at the same time, i.e., "normal class periods") and "asynchronous" (work is done outside of class and not during the usual class period) systems. From our research and conversations with colleagues, there has been a clear move toward asynchronous work for the following reasons:
Fatigue from extended screen time — From Middle School Head of School Drew Meyer: "I’ll tell a personal story. I spent Tuesday on six hours of Zoom calls. I was exhausted at the end of the experience. If I’m feeling that way, then a student is going to have an exponentially harder time. It's not reasonable to ask our students to do the same."
Need for balance in a student’s life — This is a stressful time for all of us, including you and our students. We need to allow our students the chance to connect with their siblings, parents, and community (if appropriate), and get outside and exercise (at the correct distance).
Setting you up for success — There was widespread concern amongst faculty as to how to manage the synchronous work while managing the demands at your house (children, spouses working from home, or maybe concern about other faculty members). We think this change helps meet those needs.