2020.3.27 – Saxe Weekly

March 27, 2020

Dear Saxe Family,

Our second full week of e-learning is officially in the books. It is amazing how everyone has rallied to make this transition such a success. While we acknowledge that it is a work in progress and there is still much to be done as we continue to evolve, we all have so much to be proud of. I am proud of our students who have shown optimism and resiliency. I am proud of our staff who had an audible called on “third and long” and made the best of the situation. They responded with empathy, support, and professionalism. And yes, some nervousness, but they reacted with the most respectable level of dexterity and grace. I am proud of our parents who have reached out with feedback, questions, and accolades as we all adjust to our new normal while balancing personal, professional, and family needs. I am proud of our district leadership who have deftly navigated and conducted us all through these uncharted territories. Thank you to each of you. I am proud to be part of this great community of New Canaan.

As we all consider ways to stay connected, I am asking you to think about ways to continue to build our community at Saxe. Whether through spirit days, group share-outs, feature videos/pictures, or whatever the imagination can create, we are open to suggestions. If you have a picture (or video) of your child(ren) doing the pledge and would like that to be featured in our morning announcements, please send them in (idea credit goes to Mr. Harris)! There is no stronger, more spirited community than ours, and I know that we are just going to keep getting better.

This week in the Saxe Weekly, we take a look at important information from our nursing staff, student support team, school counselors, tips to navigate our e-learning environment, a student & pet video chat, student work stations, Latin, Mandarin, Saxe staff professional learning, Saxe spirit, and more.

Enjoy and have a wonderful weekend!

Dave Gusitsch

Principal, Saxe Middle School

Want to check out the “Saxe Weekly” from last week? You’re one click away, here.

*Quotes that resonated with us this week:

“Ask not what staying home on the couch can do for you, but what staying home on the couch can do for your country.”

“You’ve got 3 choices: Give in, Give up, or Give it all you’ve got.”

“Hard times don’t create heroes. It is during the hard times when the hero within us is revealed.”

“You have within you, right now, everything you need to deal with whatever the world can throw at you.”

“F.E.A.R. has two meanings: Forget Everything and Run or Face Everything and Rise.”

Important Reminder from our Nursing Staff

Dear Parents,

The nurses would like to remind you that we are here to assist our students and families through this challenging time. In order to best support all of our families, it is important for you to please let us know if your child is ill and unable to participate in distance learning. This helps us to track illness within our community and to be sure we are meeting the academic needs of our students.

You may call the usual school attendance line 203.594.4500 or email your school nurse directly.

Of course, ALL information related to health is confidential.

Nurses contact info:

Saxe- Upper Division- Sara.Paine@ncps-k12.org

Saxe Lower Division- Joelle.graham@ncps-k12.org

District Nursing Supervisor- Janet.reed@ncps-k12.org

Additionally, please know that the local and State Health Departments are asking all of us to assume we have likely all been exposed to Covid-19 and to act accordingly. As a community, we can slow the spread of the disease, but only if we all work together.

  • Shelter in our homes.
  • Practice social distancing.
  • Wash our hands frequently.

If you must go out, be very careful what you touch. Remove your shoes and outerwear when entering your home and wash your hands before touching anything. Be well,

Janet Reed

Student Support Team Messages: Financial, Mental Health, and Technical Support

We understand that these are challenging times, and families may need help with financial, mental health or technological support. Please email the building principal if we can be of assistance in any of these areas as they relate to your child’s education. If we are unable to provide the assistance, we will work to connect you to the appropriate resources. We want to be sure that all of our students and families are able to fully access their education and we are here to support you. New Canaan Youth and Family Services are also available for assistance at 203-594-3081.

School Counselors

Coming soon… be on the look-out for an email from your student’s counselor on a new Google Classroom set up by the counseling staff. These classrooms will allow easy communication between students and counselors and will have wonderful strategies to help your student(s) manage stress and be ready to learn. They will also include fun activities where students can virtually connect with one another. If you have any questions or suggestions, please reach out to your child’s counselor: contact information, here.

Parent Strategies for E-Learning

We know this is a difficult time for students and parents, here are some tips from our Student Support Professionals that may be helpful in our new e-learning environment.

  1. Keep a routine as much as possible. Routine helps kids (and all of us) feel safe and in control. Keep to the school schedule and bedtimes or work to find your own routines if that is not possible. Set up a specific location to do work and have everything you need on hand. Try to limit distractions! Use headphones and separate work areas for siblings. (If you have any technology needs, reach out to your principal.)
  1. Allow for frequent breaks. Staring at a computer all day is really difficult, even for adults. Kids need lots of breaks between lessons. Make sure they get up and stretch- get a drink. Have them do some yoga poses or jumping jacks. And definitely – make sure they go outside and get exercise every day. We all need fresh air. It is good for mental and physical health.
  1. Do not get into struggles with your child over schoolwork. If they are resisting – talk with them about what the difficulties might be. Is it certain assignments? Certain times of the day? If they don’t complete the work don’t panic. The more you push with tweens/ teenagers the more you will get resistance. Instead, try to problem-solve with them and get their ideas for solutions. Reach out to the teacher for suggestions if you are still having difficulty, and/or check-in with the counselor for additional help.

Managing Anxiety Related to Coronavirus

The news on the coronavirus is affecting everyone. Here are some tips that may be helpful for managing this with your children.

  1. Limit exposure to the news. For your sake, and the sake of your children, it is best to limit your media exposure regarding the virus. While some information is important to help us feel in control, too much is definitely overwhelming and impacts our well-being. Offer your child perspective – for example- the virus is very mild for most people.
  1. Spend time together as a family having fun. Pull out board games. Order more puzzles. Take hikes outside. The most powerful way to reduce our stress, and the stress our kids are facing, is by spending time together. Talking. Listening. Laughing. One of the wonderful “silver linings” of the virus is the time we have together.
  1. Ask questions. Ask your students what they are most worried about. Ask what they are hearing and seeing on social media about the virus, and what questions they have about what they are seeing. Answer their questions matter of factly, but with the reassurance that the doctors are working on medicines and a cure, and everyone is doing what is needed to keep safe- by washing hands and social distancing.
  1. Label feelings. Help your child label their feelings. As they say – you have to “name it to tame it.” Kids may be more irritable or angry when stressed and may have trouble identifying their feelings. Remind them that anxiety is a normal feeling when things are uncertain- and it has a purpose- to help us develop strategies for safety. Help your child to identify their specific strategies for managing their emotions. Practicing breathing, using positive self-talk and focusing on positive aspects of their lives are all great strategies. (Here are a few other suggestions.)
  1. Help students connect to peers. Adolescents developmentally need time with their peers – so social distancing is very hard on many of them. Try to encourage opportunities to connect through other avenues. The school counselors are arranging some “Hangouts” kids can join – so check with your student’s counselor if you are interested.
  1. Focus on how to help others. Taking the focus off of ourselves and on to others helps us all feel better. Think about how you might be able to help members of the community who are struggling. Doing shopping for older adults, checking in with neighbors or donating to the local food pantry all teach children compassion at a time of need. Reminding them that they are also helping others by washing their hands and social distancing will also help them feel they are contributing to the greater good.
  1. Manage your own emotions. Make sure to take time to pay attention to your own needs – recognize your feelings, label what they are, and think about the best ways to cope with them. When you model for your children that while there is uncertainty right now, it is manageable- you reassure them and help them learn how to manage their own feelings.

Reach out to school counselors, social workers, psychologists and others at school. They are here to help you and continue to work during e-learning. Their contact information is here, and here.

Around “Virtual” Saxe

We continue to receive messages and photos of students at work in their “home learning stations” (thank you!). Each one puts a smile on my face as they are true representations of how positive and resilient our students are. We are so fortunate to be part of such a wonderful community that values education as much as New Canaan does. Thank you!

Check out this amazing sampling of Ryan Shih at work on the piano!

Animals bring us together!

Thanks to Mr. Lepisto for hosting possibly the first-ever student & pet video chat. It was great to connect with students, and each other, while showing off some great pets. There were rabbits, guinea pigs, cats, and of course, #DogsOfSaxe.

Here are some other home “work stations”:

I think I would like to check out this remote learning location…


In Latin we are trying some new Tech Tools: Here are the 7th and 8th Grade Latin Students using Padlet to write Latin sentences using specific vocabulary. In Padlet, you can ‘like’ other people’s posts, comment on them, and see what everyone has to say!

“Taking Attendance” in Latin class – trying to foster a sense of ‘normal’ by saying “Salve” (Hello) just like we would in school:

Also using Google Meet to meet face-to-face!

‘Hoc Die in historia’ is something we did everyday in class (This Day in History) and here it is in a Google Meets. There are three options for something that may have happened on this Day in History, but only one option is correct, what actually happened on this day in history. Students guess which event happened on this day in history and then I reveal which option was correct – ALL IN LATIN!

e.g. A. regina Elisabeta Prima mortua est. (Queen Elizabeth I died)

B. dies dormiendi (day of naps)

C. primus vir in spatio ambulavit (the first man walked in space) (This one was correct for Last Wednesday 3/18).


7th-graders used target language to write a short column about their future self.

Around Saxe

After a special schedule in the morning for students, Saxe staff participated in a Professional Learning Day on Thursday. As we all continue to learn and grow throughout this e-learning experience, we are constantly adapting and evolving our practices. It was an inspiring day of professional sharing, learning, and growth where collegiality was at its finest. Thank you to our entire Saxe staff who participated with a special shout-out to staff who facilitated a PL session!

Below are some photos and comments on how the day went:

  • It really reminded me how valuable those “quick check-ins” are with students. I loved being able to have other staff teach me about the platforms they’ve been using.
  • I think that those meetings were REALLY BENEFICIAL. It was also nice to see everyone. It’s important to stay connected in these kinds of times right now.
  • I loved seeing my colleagues
  • Offerings were excellent!
  • I really liked the time to meet with my grade level and plan.
  • I appreciated being given the time to focus on learning more about these platforms we have been using. I also appreciate our staff and their continued technological education being important…

I even applied some of my learning by using Screencastify to broadcast the morning announcements this morning. Thanks to Ms. Pils and Ms. Graham for the tech assist…

Saxe Spirit!

We are keeping with the Friday tradition of “Red and Black Day” and your Saxe Admin Team was “all in” with the school spirit today! Stay tuned for more spirit day opportunities as we get into next week.

Some good tips to consider from a respected educator:

This pretty much sums up this week… Thanks to Ms. Calabrese for the laugh!

Missing the views from inside Saxe, but grateful that Mr. Tosches sent this recent sunrise along!

Thanks to Mary Hanna for capturing this great shot from Waveny this week!

Have a great week!

* A special thanks to Mary Calabrese for the continuous stream of positive, optimistic quotes!

Saxe Resources (live links)

Website: https://www.ncps-k12.org/saxe

PTC: http://www.saxeptc.org/

Twitter: @SaxeMS

The Saxe Weekly: SaxeMS.com

Saxe Middle School

Celebrating Our Learning Community Through Caring, Communication, & Commitment


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