The Director's Corner: On Flexibility and the Back Room

Flexibility is a word that comes back often in this column, as it is a very important trait to nurture in our students: the more flexible they are, the more adaptable, the more resilient, the more relaxed, and the more open to learning new information or methods. Our teachers also have to be flexible to accommodate the various learning styles of their students, to integrate the current theme in their yearly academic goals, to adapt to schedule changes and to new circumstances. One such new circumstance in the Back Room has been Sharla's pregnancy and the arrival of baby Zinia. We want to commend the Back Room students for their flexibility throughout this process, accepting Stacey as their temporary teacher while Sharla was on maternity leave, welcoming Sharla back, and wholeheartedly adopting Zinia as the tiniest Chainsaw ever. We want to commend Stacey for embracing the challenge and doing such a great job at ensuring a smooth transition and building a wonderful rapport with the more emotionally-fragile students. We want to commend Sharla for diving back in and successfully juggling her sometimes conflicting roles, and we commend Julie for keeping it all together.

New circumstances do come with new challenges. Some behaviors need to shift, everyone needs to adapt. There have no doubt been moments of stress and occasionally distress for some or all involved, but those are learning opportunities out of which everyone comes enriched. Babies can distract, but they also bring the best nurturing instincts out of even the more blasé students.

Directors also need to be flexible to manage the daily dramas among students, the small emergencies (a shortage in supplies, misplaced items, a clogged toilet), the bigger emergencies (a sick teacher, a water leak, a broken tree), the enrollment fluctuations. This spring, we have also been working on next year's staffing, and we are ready to share our progress. We are sorry to report that Sharla has decided to take next year off (probably not such of a surprise to many of you), but delighted to report that Sally Cumper has enthusiastically agreed to replace her. For those of you who have not met Sally yet, she has been working at our school since the beginning of the year in two capacities: as a tutor and as one of the math teachers in the Back Room. Partway through the year, she has also become one of our after-school teachers. Until last year, Sally worked for Leon County Schools as an ESE teacher in a separate class as well as in an inclusive classroom. She is certified to teach birth through 12, and has offered well thought out creative activities to her math group. She is loved by the students she interacts with, she has embraced our model and our philosophy and she is planning on having her own daughter attend the middle school next year.

Sally and Sharla intend to plan next year together to ensure continuity in the curriculum and avoid any major reshuffle of the weekly and daily Back Room schedules. We encourage you to talk to Sally, to Sharla, or to Sophie to alleviate any unease this announcement may cause and/or to answer any other question you may have.