ISY Elementary Blog
Our Children Tell Us What They Need
Mike Simpson, Elementary School Principal

February 19, 2021

The bright spot of my week was listening to a panel of students give my colleagues and I advice on how we can best meet their needs. On Monday, eight students represented the Elementary, Middle and High Schools in a panel discussion with all of our teachers. They gave advice and answered questions on a variety of topics that ranged from how to support students in their thinking to whether or not students should be expected to have their cameras on at all times. 

In an inclusive school, it is important that the voices of students are heard. Monday’s discussion was focused on teaching and learning but we also need to hear from students of all ages as to how we might be able to support their social and emotional wellbeing. A focus on social and emotional wellbeing has always been important but it is particularly important now and will likely be even more important in the future.

Our counseling team has been very proactive across the school in providing opportunities for students to share their thoughts and counselors have developed lessons and support structures to make sure that every student is having their social and emotional needs met. In the Elementary School, Ms. Patty meets weekly with classes to check in on students and address needs that have been identified by both students and teachers. Many of these needs are identified in regular ‘Counselor Check In’ surveys that Ms. Patty uses to guide her focus with classes and students. Ms. Patty also offers individualized support at the request of students or families and can be contacted at

As families and educators we want to make sure that we are meeting the needs of all of our children. Monday’s panel discussion was a good reminder for me that children themselves are usually in the best position to let us know what those needs are.

Elementary School Parent Virtual Coffee

Thursday, February 25 at 5:30pm

Please join us on Thursday to hear how we are supporting your children.

Dr. Hedger will begin with a welcoming address. We will outline what surveys have told us about the needs of your children and how we are meeting those needs. There will also be time for general questions.

A reminder and Zoom link for this event will be emailed to you next week.


How to maintain hope in the face of adversity.

Although the events of the past few weeks have had far reaching effects, one consequence for our students has been a temporary return to full time online learning.  Several students have indicated that returning to full time online learning has been a struggle.  Their disappointment might make it more difficult for them to hope for a full return to school.  This had me wondering what we can do to help our students maintain hope when faced with adversity.  In seeking an answer, I found Martin Seligman’s theory of Learned Optimism.  Learned optimism frames adversity as a healthy way to take ownership of solutions.  This framework consists of 3 principals: Permanence, Pervasiveness and Personalization.

Permanence: Acknowledge that nothing is permanent.  We will be together again on campus at some point.

Pervasiveness: Although the adversity may feel overwhelming and much is beyond our student’s control, there are areas in their lives, which remain consistent.  These areas have not changed and need to be acknowledged.  However small, they can show gratitude for the areas that have not changed.  They still get to see their friends and attend school, even if over Zoom.

Personalization: Student’s thoughts, actions and efforts do make a difference.  Trying their best and developing social connections online are actions toward resuming in-person friendships.  Washing hands and wearing masks are efforts to maintain a healthy community, ready to learn together on campus. 

Talking with our students about these principles can help them develop the skills for Learned Optimism and build resilience in a time of uncertainty.

Ms. Patty is available to support students and families in need.  Questions and appointments can be made at


How can you support your child during times of change?

Although ISY strives to be a consistent presence for students, this week’s current events impacted your child’s learning schedule.  Several parents have reached out to ask how they could help their child during these unexpected changes.  Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Be a Role Model: Children take emotional cues from the adults around them.  If parents demonstrate a calm, healthy attitude toward change, typically they will also.  Demonstrate healthy habits, such as proper nutrition, sleep & exercise.
  2. Explain world events with terms and vocabulary your child can understand.  
  3. Highlight their safety.  Children have a limited world view.  They need to know that they are safe and what measures are being taken to ensure safety.
  4. Allow children opportunities to share their feelings.  Let your child know that their feelings are valid and you want to support them.
  5. Highlight areas for gratitude.  Change can be scary but it can also highlight the constants, the areas in our lives that are stable and supportive.  Take a moment to be thankful for these areas.

If you or your child would like support in dealing with change or other transitions, feel free to reach out to Ms. Patty.  She can be reached at

Virtual Recess is still running from 1:00-1:30 PM.  All activities will be student driven but will include fun and games.

  • Grades 3, 4, & 5: Tuesday at 1pm
  • Grades 1 & 2: Thursday at 1pm

In-Person After School Activities and Transitional Days

Currently we are planning the below in-person activities next week.  If this schedule alters for any reason we will send a follow up email with any changes.  Please note that these activities are optional. If you don’t want your child to attend that is totally fine.  Transitional Day activities will run a synchronous program so students may join from home if they wish.

Transitional Days

From next Wednesday, February 24, we will continue with the transitional day schedule (see below).  The start time of these days will be confirmed next week.
  • Wednesday – Pre-K, KG, Grade 5
  • Thursday – Pre-K, KG, Grade 3
  • Friday – Pre-K, KG, Grade 4

After School Activities

Next week starting on Monday 22nd, we will begin with in-person After School Activities (ASAs) as well as online ASAs.   The instructors of each in-person activity will email their participants but here is a summary:
  • No Elementary School in-person activities
  • No Elementary School in-person activities
  • Pre Swim Team Skills – (Grades 4 & 5) – 1:30 – 2:30
  • No Elementary School in-person activities
  • Pre Swim Team Skills – (Grades 4 & 5) – 1:30 – 2:30
  • Spartan Games Obstacle Courses (Grades 5-8) – 2 – 3 pm

For questions about ASAs please contact Ms. Isom, For an update on facilities please see the latest Athletics and Activities Blog post.

MAP Testing Next Week

If the internet is stable next week, we are planning to start MAP testing with our Grade 2 to 5 students on Wednesday next week. 

MAP assessments in Reading, Language, and Mathematics are online adaptive assessments that provide useful data in developing a fair and accurate assessment of a student’s academic achievement and growth.

Teachers combine MAP assessment data with all other student data that they have collected in the classroom. MAP data itself is not used for grading at ISY but this combination of data informs teacher instruction in meeting the needs of each child.


Did you know that Mr. Zar Li, our head security officer, was a former Mr. Myanmar! He is very fit and knows 100s of different exercises to stay fit.

Mr. Zar Li has kindly offered to run 15 minute work outs for our students that will start at 8:10am every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. These work outs will start next Monday. The Zoom link for the workouts will be on the Friday Family Report email that you receive from your child(ren)’s teacher. All ages are welcome and parents are welcome to join in too.

The workouts will finish at 8:25am to give students time to get a drink and get organized before joining their classes at 8:30am.

These workouts do not replace regular P.E. classese during the school day. 

Previous Elementary School Posts