Phoenix Flyer #3

August 26, 2020

Dear DHMS Families,

Welcome to the 20-21 school year. The Dorothy Hamm Admin Team and Counseling Department has been working over the summer months to envision and create a great learning experience for our students. While we would rather be in person, we are looking forward to seeing your youngster in our “virtual” classrooms. We learned so much last spring about how to engage our students, how to support them, and effective strategies for teaching and learning. We are excited to start this new year off with a focus on new content, working with students during “live” class periods, and supporting students to adapt and adjust social-emotionally to this new world.

I’ve included lots of information, below, to help prepare for school to begin. Our website is full of good information. Check it out.  Our main office is manned daily between 8-4 to answer your phone calls and collect or share materials. Please do not hesitate to reach out.

With excitement,
Ellen Smith, DHMS Principal

~The Phoenix Flyer~

Our building continues to be a construction site – but if you have driven by you noticed the progress has been fantastic. This week furniture is being moved into classrooms, next week the library books are set to be delivered and shelved, and the building is getting multiple, thorough cleanings. The sidewalk for our historical commemoration walk (from Old Dominion Dr.) is in place and the metal panels with history and art are in development.  We will have a virtual celebration once this is complete.

The DHMS Staff is excited to return. Because our student population has increased, we have added many new teachers. Please join me in welcoming these awesome teachers to the Phoenix Family:

Molly Norrbom – English 6 Abigail Gwydir – Business/Comp Sci
LaPortia Banks – English 6 Savannah Lunger – Drama
Beth Malks – Social Studies 6 Crystal Moore – Equity and Excellence
Sabrina McManus – Math 6 Juanita Gibbons – English Learners
Regina Boyd – English 7 Gisela Caballero – Spanish/EL
Juan Moya Rojas – Math 7 Edgar King – American Sign Language
Elise Krueger – Science 7 Andral Hills – Exemp. Proj. Coach/Testing
Madison McSherry – Social Studies 7 Cierra Fisher – Counseling
Donald Marszalek – Science 8 Derrick Milton – Social Work Intern
Craig Rampersad – Health/Physical Education

Upcoming Dates/Events:

  • Thursday, August 27 (7 PM – 8 PM) DHMS Parent Academy via Zoom – Zoom link shared in email
  • Wednesday, September 2 (8 AM – 1 PM) Distribution of Agendas/DHMS Gift/Survival Guide
    • Please drive up the DHMS Driveway at anytime between those hours and we will hand you a bag with goodies for your Phoenix Student. Students who are NEW to APS may pick up their IPads at this time.
  • Thursday, September 3 (9 AM) Livestream Welcome Back Assembly – Link to come
  • Thursday, September 3 (10 AM) TA Virtual Meet and Greet – Get to know your TA teacher and TA classmates
  • Thursday, September 3 (1 PM – 4 PM) Distribution of Agendas/DHMS Gift/Survival Guide
    • Two Locations:
      • DHMS Driveway – drive through anytime between those hours to get your bag of goodies
      • Key Boulevard next to Key Elementary School – drive by to pick up your bag of goodies
  • Tuesday, September 8 (7:50 AM) Students join their TA Virtually for the First Day of School!

Technology Update: If you and your family are new to APS this year, we will have devices for students to use, ready for pick up on Wednesday, September 2nd.  Rising 6th graders who attended an APS Elementary School will start the school year with their current iPad. Information Services is waiting on a shipment of iPad cases for 6th grade middle school iPads. As soon as those devices are ready, we will communicate a plan for swapping your elementary iPad for your new middle School iPad. If your student’s iPad is not functioning for any reason, please complete the technology help request on the DHMS website under Technology. Ms. Leon is working through those requests now. Please be patient. She will respond as soon as she can.

Despite well-thought out plans and contingencies, I’m certain that at different points in the year our students and staff will struggle with technological access that will impact the ability to “be present” in class. Having observed the challenges with other video conferencing tools recently, I believe it is good for us to help students be prepared. Here are my suggestions:

  • Have a plan with/for your student in the event they cannot connect. A good start would be for students to restart their iPad (do a complete shut down and restart) and check the iPad’s charge. Does it have power? Is the power connection working?
  • Next, I recommend they reach out to one of their study buddies to see if they are having access issues as well. If so, encourage your student to work on something else, or perhaps this is a good time for a physical break – take a walk, etc.
  • If students can still access Canvas, (the problem might be in MS Teams) have them work through the lesson that the teacher has posted, to the best of their ability.
  • Ask students to reach out to the teacher through Canvas messaging, letting the teacher know what happened, and the teacher can provide some additional guidance.
  • If this is a regular problem, please complete the technology help request on the DHMS website under Technology. Our ITC, Katherine Leon, works through those help requests and may reach out more directly to support.

Most important, perhaps, is that we model for our students how to manage this kind of stressful situation. Please encourage students not to panic, remind them that the learning opportunity will still be there, and encourage them to take a few minutes to relax and remain calm. I want to support students in learning how to handle these kinds of situations without experiencing a lot of stress. We have an opportunity to support our students in building resiliency in the face of unexpected scenarios. Teachers will be responsive to students when this happens.

Look for regular updates from Ms. Leon, our ITC, about technology, devices, and the tools we use to support teaching and learning in our regular Phoenix Flyers.

Schedules: I know students are eager to find out who their teachers are for this year. Students will receive a letter in the U.S. mail welcoming them to the 2020-2021 school year. This letter will tell them the TA (Teacher Advisor) Teacher. Students are encouraged to test their technology and join their TA Meet and Greet on September 3 at 10 AM. TA teachers will reach out to students to communicate how to access the class. Student schedules will be available in StudentVue and ParentVue on September 4th.

Thanks to all who joined us for our first DHMS Town Hall. What a great event – almost 300 of you were online with us. Thanks for your positive energy. As well, many joined for our first Parent Academy – we filled the Zoom room (100)! Or, please join us for the same session repeated on Thursday, August 27 at 7 PM through Zoom (meeting details and the link will be emailed by the PTSA).