Dear Parents and Colleagues,
This has certainly been a challenging and unique school year since the October disruptions right up to this final week of school with teachers and students engaged in distance learning. It is easy to focus on the negative, but in many ways we have come together in a spirit of resilience and collaboration. The levels of empathy and understanding afforded by this time are tools for a better future.
COVID-19 has dominated the news and our lives for months, but there are still many other equally, if not more pressing, issues we need to address as individuals and as a society. Recent events in the United States highlight the need to continue to address, as we are modelling at Academia Cotopaxi, issues of race, gender and economic inequality and the ongoing threats of environmental degradation. We fundamentally believe in an inclusive community with zero tolerance for any form of discrimination. Together we inhabit a small, increasingly crowded planet that is sailing through rough waters. In such circumstances we need to collaborate, cooperate and help each other or else the whole boat is at risk of being overcome by threatening waves.
These summer holidays will also be different from years before. At the school we will be busy continuing our planning and preparations for the contingencies of next year. Attached to this message is a document that outlines our planning process for how the school and learning will look next year. Success in adapting to the new reality will be a community effort, collaboration in spirit and practice between home and school.
One example of this collaboration and support for our parents is postponing the required purchase of uniform articles for next year. There are far too many questions in the air for us to require you to go to the effort of purchasing specific clothing items now. When on-campus school resumes we will require certain standards of dress, orderly, tasteful, the ability to voluntarily wear uniform items already purchased. However, until things are more stabilized we do not want you concerned with trying to purchase additional clothing for your children. If there are changes to this decision down the road parents will receive plenty of advanced notice.
We are currently completing plans for Summer Discovery and Learning to provide additional support for you and your children. This will include both assigned and recommended readings and activities as well optional and fun ways to keep your sons and daughters engaged intellectually. Complete details will be coming out shortly. We do believe our teachers and students need a short pause away from Zoom meetings and such so there will be a short break from school for all before the Summer Discovery and Learning options are opened. Please stay on the lookout for updates.
On behalf of all our students I want to personally thank you for your support through this time. It takes a community to educate a child and COVID-19 has definitely highlighted this truth. From the teachers who have had to completely redesign their approach to teaching, to the parents who have had to support their children at home, to the students, from our youngest students at IMAGINE who have adapted, so much more quickly than we as adult could imagine, to learning from a screen, to our seniors who are, without a doubt, the graduates who have exemplified the resilience and fortitude we desire for all your youth. Collectively you have made this year, despite all its challenges, a year to celebrate as part of the Cotopaxi community.
I would also like to thank our Board of Trustees. This is the seventh international school where I have had an administrative role. I can say with all sincerity that I have never worked with a more dedicated and sincerely caring Board as I have had the privilege of working with here at Academia Cotopaxi. Their efforts are a reflection on the huge heart this school has. We will make mistakes as we navigate through the challenges of life, but when our hearts are in the right place we come out better for the journey. As a reflection of the love for our community that we all share, the Board would like to share with you today, in this last official Newsletter for the year of surprises, a short video of celebration.
As new or returning parents or staff next year please be aware that all schools right now are in a process of adapting to unknown variables. As things develop we will communicate to you as quickly as possible so it is important that you keep your eyes on your emails and messages.
Have a great summer. You have my email contact and personal phone number. Count on my support in whatever way I can provide, which is based on the support I feel from all of you!
Robert van der Eyken