Message from Principal Hedlund

Dr. Phyllis HedlundPrincipal Newsletters

Principal's Newsletter

Good afternoon Shepherd families, 

Honestly, it feels more like a month than a week since we returned to school. It has been an emotionally devastating week to watch the desecration of our democracy as citizens of the United States and the District of Columbia and the systemic racism that enabled it. As I listened to the discussion our Wellness team facilitated with the students, I was overwhelmed with our children’s capacity to make meaning out of chaos, their ability to express their emotions and their genuine uncertainty about what the future holds, yet they are hopeful, brave and wise beyond their years. This generation will a generation of old souls. 

Staffing Update 

You may have noticed that there were no art classes this week, and I waited to share this news until I had the permission of his family. Our deeply beloved Mr. Garner suffered a major stroke a little over a week ago. He was in critical condition and underwent surgery, but his health is improving daily. At this time, he is in good spirits and resting comfortably, and his blood pressure is under control. Mr. Garner’s family asks that we pray for him. Ms. Pereira is putting together a video get well message for Mr. Garner. Please tape a short message, 30 seconds or less, and email it to Ms. Pereira at [email protected]. I will provide updates on his condition, as well as an address to send cards and gifts once he is discharged from the hospital. I know this is terribly upsetting news; please feel free to reach out to me directly. 

 Third Grade CARE 

This week we had the opportunity to open another CARE classroom. Ms. Gladney who was initially slated to teach our ECE CES classroom is leading this work. At this time, she does not have any CES students and volunteered to facilitate a CARE classroom. Students started on Wednesday, January 6th, and they are thrilled to be here. We are thrilled to have them. 

Term 3 Reopening Plans 

The replacement of our HVAC system has significantly impacted our reopening plan as it limits the number of classrooms we have available. The reinstallation will begin on Monday, January 11th in the A Wing with the demolition of ceilings. Work on A Wing is slated for completion at the end of March when they will move on to B and then C wings. We will have eleven classrooms available for use at the beginning of Term 3, and two of those must be reserved as isolation rooms in case students or staff members display symptoms during the school day. Subsequently, we will open an additional 7 classrooms on 2/1/2021.  

Yesterday, Ms. Rottman and I communicated with the staff members who will return to work on February 1st. We met as a group for the first time this morning and answered questions and reviewed information. Next Monday, we will begin calling families to offer students seats in those 7 classrooms. Families will have 48 hours to make a decision, but please start thinking seriously about whether you would accept a seat if it is offered. CARE classrooms are supervised virtual learning, and In-Person Learning classrooms feature live instruction.  Please remember that the student selection process is determined by a standardized lottery. 

These are the classrooms Shepherd will be offering in Term 3: 

Grade Number of seats 
PK 3  
PK 4 10 
K IPL 10 
K CARE Full at 10 
1 IPL 11 
2 IPL 11 
3 CARE Full at 11 
4 IPL 11 
5 IPL 11 

After we finalize instructional models for IPL classrooms early next week, I will provide more information. For now, I can assure you that students in grades 4 and 5 will continue to have all three teachers; we will remain departmentalized. Students in those seats will receive a hybrid of live and virtual instruction. If teachers remain virtual, they will receive support from an instructional aide if their student load increases. Specials will remain virtual. I will send a mid-week update once more details become available. Thank you for your patience.  

Cupid’s Kids 

The DC Department of Aging and Community Living has invited Shepherd to participate in their Annual Cupid’s Kids campaign and help lift the spirits of homebound seniors during Valentine’s Day. In partnership with DC Public Library, they are inviting everyone in the community to help make handmade Valentine’s Day cards for isolated and homebound District seniors. This year’s goal is to send handmade Valentine’s Day cards to over 6,000 recipients of DACL’s home-delivered meals program. The cards will be included in the February meal delivery. Handmade Valentine’s Day cards will be collected at select DCPL sites. Locations are listed in the toolkit, which is attached and also includes instructions on how to make a card. You may also visit their website for more information. 

Enjoy your weekend. Please reach out with any questions and concerns. 

With optimism,