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Learning to Celebrate (in) Our New Normal

by Maureen Crone

When Jack, a Trinity second-grader who is attending school online this year, learned that our annual “Fall Into Fun” celebration was happening this month, he was as excited as every other student to participate in the event. His teacher wasn’t about to let him miss out, either.

 

Trinity’s second grade is a lively group of 15 in-class students plus Jack, who attends via a live video feed each day. Almost every teacher at Trinity has at least one online student in addition to a classroom of in-person learners. Including these children in everyday social interactions, an important part of a child’s education, has been a challenge that teachers have met in different and wonderful ways. Rather than strip down the curriculum to academics-only material for online learners, teachers are using technology, imagination, collaboration, and faith to ensure that their mission to nurture the development of the whole child is accomplished.

 

School traditions have always been a big part of our students’ learning journey, and provide many meaningful opportunities to interact with the community of families and friends who have attended Trinity. This year, we have had to re-imagine some traditions; some have been put on hold until we can gather safely in person. The Lion’s Share Breakfast will have to wait until next November. Our beloved Lessons and Carols holiday service will also wait until social distance measures are no longer necessary. Meanwhile, the ingenuity of faculty, parents, and students has enabled us to celebrate some traditions differently this year, but with no less enthusiasm. The weekly chapel service music has been repurposed from singing to dancing– often, with costumes. Our Christmas program will include 60 student actors and singers– but they’ll be recorded one at a time, and layered together for a video production to remember. Other events have been postponed with the hope that maybe we’ll be able to schedule them in the spring.

 

For now, though, we’re traveling through this school year focused on safety and with a community dedicated to inclusion. “Fall into Fun” turned into an afternoon of games, costumes, and treats all delivered to individual classrooms rather than the usual schoolwide carnival.

 

 Jack was there, too. He joined the class on Zoom with his camera off. He wrote and read three clues to the class about his costume. They wrote their guesses on index cards, and then shared them with Jack. Finally, it was time for the big reveal! Everyone received a prize for playing, and continued the celebration together. 

 

And for the rest of this year, that’s our plan… finding a new normal, together.

 

Maureen Crone is the marketing and development director at Trinity.

Going Gaga With Giving

 

by Maureen Crone

 

When Nate Baker considered what he wanted to do for his Eagle Scout project this year, his first thought was of Trinity Lutheran School. A 2018 graduate of Trinity, Nate is now a junior at Smithfield High School and is also enrolled in the Governor’s School STEM program. His mom, Ellen, is the school’s library resource teacher, and his two younger brothers attend Trinity. 

 

Nate has been an active member of the Boy Scouts since he was seven years old, so achieving the title of Eagle Scout has been in his sights for a while. The Eagle Scout project is the pinnacle of any boy’s scouting experience. Its purpose– to demonstrate leadership of others while benefiting one’s community– has been illustrated by thousands of helpful contributions to communities around the world by local teens. Nate used his previous experience with construction projects (he built a treehouse for his family a few years ago) and his memories of being a student at Trinity to guide his decision. “I remember that the playground (at Trinity) didn’t have a lot to offer. We played a LOT of ‘tag’! And I wanted to do something that would be durable, that could be enjoyed by students of all ages.”

 

His creation of a Gaga ball pit checks all boxes. Gaga ball, for those of us who are not up-to-date on playground trends, is a kinder, gentler version of dodgeball played with a soft foam ball. Nate and his crew of volunteers built the walls for the pit at his home. They brought the pieces to Trinity on a sunny Saturday afternoon for assembly. Beyond the gratification of making something lasting for his old school, he said “the opportunity to work with a group of friends and volunteers was awesome.”

 

The fellowship shared during the construction of this playground improvement is echoed every day at school in the shouts and laughter of Gaga ball competitors. This is one Eagle Scout project that has improved a school community for years to come. 

 

Maureen Crone is the director of marketing and development at Trinity Lutheran School.

5 Things for Parents to Remember During COVID-19

The following is an excerpt from a letter sent to parents by an elementary school principal. Although its author cannot be verified, this message has been shared thousands of times in the past few days. We at Trinity Lutheran School feel that this message of hope and encouragement is an important one for all of us.

This is my advice for those who have been thrust into schooling your kids at home due to the coronavirus COVID-19 shutdowns. You are NOT homeschooling. You are CRISIS schooling. Crisis schooling is stressful and even trauma-inducing. Being at home all day is NOT our normal! Our kids are not used to being in their houses all day long. Children are grieving right now. Out of the blue, they lost a lot. It is wonderful that so many classes are going online, but it’s not the same. They lost their in-person time with friends, their daily routine and the predictability of life that gives us security. We all did.

1. HONOR that grief process! Don’t expect to just jump into a perfect program and learn, learn, learn. Expect them to act out. Expect them to not want to get out of bed. Expect them to not have words to express their inner turmoil.

2. YOU are grieving and experiencing loss. Give yourself a lot of GRACE! Even some of us veterans in education are struggling because our security has been yanked from under our feet. Some of you have lost jobs. Those who are working are afraid of going out. Some of you have been to 5 grocery stores and still do not have what you need. Our society has been turned upside down. Give yourself a break.

3. It is okay to NOT be amazing. Don’t try to be Pinterest Homeschool Mom/Dad of the Year. From experience, I can tell you, something always “gives”, no matter how perfect people pretend to be. When you have 18 kids in a class, it takes a lot of time to get all of them to turn to page 32, take out pencils, get their paper, stop pulling their friend’s hair. There are natural distractions with a big class that do not happen in a small one. You will get done fast!

4. Don’t artificially create busywork to do for 6 hours a day. That will anger and bore your child, and make you tear your hair out. When you’re done, you’re done! Go do some fun things! Or… even crazier… have fun learning! If your school did not give you loads of worksheets, be glad. Now you can read lots of literature and do hands-on learning! There is a lot of learning that does not end in a worksheet. Read, read,read!

5. Get crazy and ask your kids what they are interested in– and then learn about that! If your child thinks the solar system is really cool, then read about the solar system, look up YouTube videos about it, do projects about it, making it fun and engaging. If you do that, your day will fly by… and you’ll still be learning.
Life will go on even if you are not stellar during a worldwide crisis. Maybe your best today will be to cuddle up with the kids and just be together. Maybe your best today is that everyone is fed and you didn’t cry in front of them. It’s okay, and even necessary, to be REAL with yourself about what’s happening. A bomb did not literally go off, but metaphorically it did. Our lives may never be the same after this. If you crumble, honor that. I promise you, your child will learn. We learn from all of life! Blessings and love to all of the parents who are taking on this huge challenge! Give yourself grace! You got this!! I believe in you! I have seen parents work miracles in schooling their children.

Celebrating Trinity’s 60 Years… Reflections from a Head of School

By Lynne Fritzinger

 

For me, Trinity has always been a place where children are inspired to learn and thrive as individuals; it is a place filled with young people who care about each other and who work together to make the world a better place. Trinity has proven its worth and weathered the test of time.  It has flourished because of its recognition of the needs of the world and a commitment to fill those needs. This was first seen in the 1960’s when there was a need for kindergarten opportunities, and again in the 1970’s when there was a need for a middle school environment. It continues to be seen now as young people need a compass on values, a place to prepare for the 21st Century, and an understanding of their role as world leaders. 

 I know no better place for young people to learn than Trinity Lutheran School.  I am grateful for my 10 years as Head of School and that my grandson now a student at this thriving institution. During my time at Trinity, we accomplished so many great things! Looking back, here are a few of our accomplishments:

  • In 2011, Trinity became the only private school in Virginia to bear the distinction of being an authorized International Baccalaureate World School. Our journey added life into how we viewed young people and what they needed to succeed in the 21st Century.   I loved opportunities to connect with other schools during IB Conferences and our own staff to implement this program.  By participating in IB, we continued Trinity’s mission to teach the whole child.
  • Also in 2011, Trinity competed with other elementary, middle and high schools in Virginia and North Carolina to create a video for Harris Teeter’s jingle, and we won the $10,000 Grand Prize!  Thanks to Google, that video can still be seen. When I look back at the students who performed and the talent of music teacher Mrs. Lois Reese I can’t help but feel enormous pride. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OMyLyvlxRjQ     
  • In 2013, Trinity Lutheran School forged another pathway to greatness through accreditation with AdvancED/Cognia, the world’s largest educational network encompassing 27,000 public and private schools throughout the United States and 69 countries worldwide. AdvancED/Cognia remains the most comprehensive accrediting institution for schools worldwide to this day.
  • Other memorable events that left lasting impressions and made Trinity a special place to be were the Charity games, Lessons and Carols, spelling bees, and even the infamous taping of the Head of School to the gym wall. They represent the people, mission, and climate of this very special school.  
  •  As my time at Trinity came to an end in 2015, our school was recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence.  This distinguished award highlighted Trinity as an exemplary, high-performing school with student achievement in the top 15% nationwide in both math and reading.
  • Trinity also embarked on innovative ways to learn based on compelling research and a commitment to unleash the potential in every student here.  Some of my favorites are still in use today, including the SuperKids Reading Program and Singapore Math.

I’m proud of all that was accomplished over the years while I served as Trinity’s Head of School. It felt like we continued the vision started so long ago by Reverend and Mrs. Bosserman.  

One of my favorite books is “The Purpose-Driven Life” by Rick Warren; I kept a copy on my desk at Trinity. When I think about my time there, I am reminded of a quote that illustrates the difference Trinity Lutheran School has made for so many over the years. 

“There are three things you can do with your life: You can waste it, you can spend it, or you can invest it. The best use of your life is to invest it in something that will last longer than your time on Earth.”  

 Trinity has done just that for me, and for generations of young people who pass through its doors. 

 

Lynne Fritzinger served as Trinity’s Head of School from 2005 to 2015, and is a proud Trinity grandparent.

Celebrating 60 years of Trinity… Head of School Reflections

 

I was at Trinity Lutheran School from 1975 to 2000.  I began as a classroom teacher and completed my tenure as Head of School.

Trinity is memorable for me not because it is a beautiful structure, but for the people who chose to worship and work there each day.  I have no connection with the very early years of the school, but I do know that many members of the congregation contributed their time and energy preparing snacks and lunches, driving children to school and doing whatever was necessary in those early days. When I came in 1975, Mrs. Bosserman was still very much involved in the work of the school. Tom Bosserman and Pastor B.  shared the administrative/pastoral duties of the congregation.  They alternated conducting chapel for the school once a week.  The teachers preferred to have Tom conduct chapel since the children came back to the classroom quiet and ready to begin the day.  Pastor B. had a knack for winding them up, but one of my favorite memories connected with those chapels was when Pastor B. conducted the service he would have the children leave the chapel singing Let there be Peace on Earth.  It was a much smaller building in those days and the sound of children’s voices echoing through the halls remains with me to this day.

Mrs.  B.  was very particular about the dress and conduct of the teaching staff and reminded them that their conduct beyond the school reflected on the school, and she expected that it would be exemplary. Money was tight.  Many of the teachers spent a significant portion of their pay for materials for their classrooms while in the kindergarten and extended day classrooms, paper towels were cut in half to make them go further. Teachers and staff were motivated by their love of children and the community of the school.  Until the day, I retired, I never came to school barelegged during the time the school was in session. Hose and no clothing that cupped below your buttocks were the order of the day even in the era of pant suits.

Each successive Head of School brought their own personality and interests to the make up of the school Peggy Smith who worked along with Mrs. B.  was very much interested in the counseling aspect of teaching and Dan Landis was what my granddaughters would call a “fun date”.  He helped to set up the middle school, hired Sandy Butler and encouraged sports teams and retreats for the middle school at Jamestown.  Our enrollment blossomed during his tenure.

For me it is always about the people who were there.  Members of the congregation like Louise Mozingo, Jeanette Thomas, and Cathie Wall gave uncounted  hours and years to the work of the school. Those early teachers worked for salaries that I would be embarrassed to quote because they loved the school and the work they did with children. The number of those who contributed their teaching skills to make the school strong  were too numerous to list.  They, along with support personnel like Mrs. Waggner, Sandy Hampton and Teresa Carr all of whom worked to prepare lunches, helped to create an environment in which children knew they were valued and loved.  Even Jim Smith , the custodian, watched out for their interests.

When I became the Head of School, Dan had made notes for me on a variety of topics. My experience with the Parents’ Association was not that they were a wonderful asset to the school.  Many of them became allies and friends that I hold dear.  I hope their value continues to be recognized.

When I resigned from the school, I thanked the Board for allowing me to do what I loved in a place that I loved and had enjoyed doing it.  I could write a book full of stories about the people (students, staff, and teachers.) The twenty-six years I spent at Trinity enriched my life and I will be forever grateful for my time there and the friends and memories I made.

by Claudette H. Taylor

Claudette Taylor served as Trinity’s Head of School from 1983 to 2000.

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