I have been telling teachers and students from the very beginning to make sure you're asking for help. If you're feeling overwhelmed or you don't understand something, just ask for help. There are so many people available to offer assistance in all areas whether it is academic, social, or emotional. We have the staffing and capacity to help everyone out. Take a breath and relax. There is so much happening in the world right now. School is very important, but when you look around and see what's happening, you just need to put it into perspective.
The following interview was conducted via Google Hangouts on Friday, May 8th. Mrs. Macomber graciously provided an hour of her time to answer questions and provide some comfort and knowledge during this pandemic. Although some questions were too soon to answer entirely, please take comfort that all questions will be answered eventually.
Zach: Thus far, how do you feel virtual schooling has been working? Good, bad?
Mrs. Macomber: It has worked far better than I thought it would at the beginning. Teachers got on board and worked hard very quickly in the first week. They have continued to work tremendously hard every day by creating lesson plans and assignments in a different way to accommodate everyone. Also, the students have been phenomenal in participating and trying their best. Parents also have the support that is necessary. Overall, everyone’s attitude going into it was great. It’s better than any of us expected.
Zach: That’s great to hear! Have you received any feedback from the teachers as to how they feel?
Mrs. Macomber: Well, at first there was a lot of anxiety about it. For some, it was an easy transition, but for most, it was a really big learning curve. To be honest, I thought we had the best professional development day teachers have ever had. This has forced them to learn things in a different way and to use tech tools that they haven’t been using. So that’s been good, and they have kept a very positive attitude. They’ve been wonderful. I can’t be proud enough of them. They have kept a great line of communication for students and their parents. Many have worked past the school day, during all hours of the night. They’ve been really available. Teacher assistants are calling every student in the building once a week to make sure that everything is okay. We also have our deans of students and guidance counselors making frequent contact with home as well.
Zach: Yes, I have gotten many calls. Students and parents have also received emails on the new grading system. However, I would like to clarify a few things. The most recent email said that students who earned a grade higher this quarter then the third quarter could keep their quarter-four GPA. So is our quarter-four GPA only going to based on those classes that we get a better grade on?
Mrs. Macomber: No. So, if your fourth quarter grade for each class is greater than your third quarter cumulative, it will be counted. Conversely, if your quarter-four average is less than your third quarter cumulative, you will receive a ‘P’ or a pass on your report card, and your class grade will be based on everything up to your third quarter.
Zach: So it’s based on each individual class, not your overall quarter?
Mrs. Macomber: Yes, so each class would have a final average, and those class averages will form your final GPA.
Zach: Therefore, your final GPA is the average of your classes and not the quarters?
Mrs. Macomber: Yes, that is correct.
Zach: There are rumors that we may be copying West Warwick’s graduation ceremony. Are there any plans for graduation so far?
Mrs. Macomber: We have submitted a plan to the state, but I have not heard back with approval because it has to be approved by the department of health, and they are very, very strict. It is extremely hard to do one of these bigger ideas like the drive-in theaters. We have over 350 graduates, meaning 350 cars, so it’s very difficult for us to consider that. We have looked into it and we would have to do two nights and it would be extremely costly. We probably will not go that route. We are trying to pass some kind of in-person graduation for the student to receive their diploma, but that has not been officially decided yet. That’s all I want to say about that right now.
Zach: That’s fine! I completely understand.
Mrs. Macomber: We have explored so many options for things that would be allowed, but are so limited because of social distancing, and it’s so hard to do what we want to do. I mean, I want a grand graduation for everybody, but I’m just not allowed to. We could wait, but it doesn’t seem like waiting would have much effect on our current situation, as our allowed attendance would not be much greater than what we have now. I don’t think it’s worth waiting.
Zach: Has there been any thoughts or decisions about what next year is going to look like?
Mrs. Macomber: Well, I have a meeting scheduled to start discussing some options for next year. Again, we have to put a few different scenarios in place in response to the different requirements. We have to be ready with many different plans for next year. Just like graduation. If we were up to ten people I could do something a little different, but we are still only up to five. We really have to wait for that to come down from the Governor first. But we are under a time crunch, so we have to begin scheduling the different scenarios. Therefore, we may have to plan on running and scheduling the building in a few different ways and be ready for any option that may come up. So, poor Mrs. Beaudin might go crazy not only making one, but two, or even three schedules for the building so we are ready for the beginning of August.
Zach: So we should all be expecting a new set up next year.
Mrs. Macomber: Possibly. It does sound like it will be looking a little different than a typical year. I don’t know exactly what it will look like. But we are having a conversation about it now so that we will have some more options and be prepared for the future.
Zach: The end of this year has been a struggle, and we are not receiving the same education as we would in school, and may not be completing our entire curriculum. What effect will this education setback have on next year?
Mrs. Macomber: This will not affect the natural class progression in our program of studies, and a student will move onto the next course. However, we may need to do some reteaching and relearning of certain skills. Maybe a student didn’t learn enough in Spanish 3 to move smoothly into Spanish 4, so we may have to reteach and relearn some of the material that wasn’t taught. Right now we are on a bit of a different schedule, and it is very possible that some things may need to be revisited, and retaught. But for the most part, we should be able to transition into our new classes without much of a struggle.
Zach: That is very comforting. I’ve heard that most colleges aren’t accepting an SAT for current Juniors. Is that true?
Mrs. Macomber: Well, I have not heard that from all colleges, but we have heard from CollegeBoard and the states that there will be a school-wide SAT in October for all those who may have missed it this year. The one that was scheduled for April 14th is now pushed into October.
Zach: I’m sure you do not know how the 6-foot rule will work in our school.
Mrs. Macomber: Yes, you can imagine how hard that might be with the number of students that we have in this building. It’s almost impossible to think of 28 kinds in a classroom to maintain 6 feet distance. That’s just me being realistic about it, so we have to figure out what we are going to do. But yeah, I don’t have an answer for that. I probably won’t have an answer for that next week either, but we are going to start conversations next week. Lots of planning this summer.
Zach: Of course. Any plan that you all come up with will not make everyone happy, but we just need to try and make it through.
Mrs. Macomber: Exactly, Zach, exactly! I’m already struggling with that right now. For graduation, I want to do what people want, but I am very limited. People aren’t always going to be happy with what I do, but I just need to make the best decision to keep people safe and follow the Governor’s rules. So I don’t have many options with what we can do, unfortunately.
Zach: Lastly, do you have any advice for students and teachers within the building who may be struggling with this kind of schooling?
Mrs. Macomber: I have been telling teachers and students from the very beginning to make sure you’re asking for help. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or you don’t understand something, just ask for help. There are so many people available to offer assistance in all areas whether it is academic, social, or emotional. We have the staffing and capacity to help everyone out. Take a breath and relax. There is so much happening in the world right now. School is very important, but when you look around and see what’s happening, you just need to put it into perspective. I’ve also been telling kids to stay connected with peers. We have been trying a lot of social things through social media and the internet to stay connected. School is so much more than academics. We want to keep students involved with their classmates and have some social interactions. Those are really important.
Zach: Absolutely, and most of the clubs are still running, which I found extremely impressive.
Mrs. Macomber: Yeah, it gets boring at home. School is fun for many kids that have connections here. They come to learn, but there is so much more to it. We are doing our best to keep that sense of unity as a school.
Zach: Well, thank you, Mrs. Macomber.
Mrs. Macomber: No problem, any time. You can always send me an email if you have any more questions.
I hope this interview proved helpful to you in some shape or form. Mrs. Macomber was so kind and helpful in answering all of these questions. All I can say is, thank you for being our principal. We should all be grateful for Mrs. Macomber.