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Message from our Superintendent

Dear ASFM Community,

George Stewart

It’s week three, and we are getting healthier!

I’m happy to report that our rate of transmission continues to go down as we are now under 0.5%. ASFM campus is probably among the safest places in Mexico. As Jimmy Cliff sings in his soulful lyrics, “you can get it if you really want, you must try, try and try, you succeed at last.” We are succeeding--you’re awesome; we’re pretty good too. Let’s keep up the great work.

We are committed to improving, and I am happy that we were able to dramatically decrease the wait time for testing. Many people have commented that they were able to get in and out of campus in under 15 mins. Did you like how we replaced the Fast Lane with the Priority Station? Or how about our ASFM dedicated lane, managed by local authorities, starting by the Cordillera? I asked for your Spotify playlists in my last letter, but now you have no time in your car to enjoy them!

Different from last week, we removed half of Nursery, Grade One and Grade Four from the testing pools. Next Monday, September 13, we will be testing the remaining cohort for this group (as well as everybody else, of course). We pulled these grade levels out from our “normal” process because they reached a zero transmission rate. I promised we would test less frequently as long as we continue recording transmission rates below 0.5%. It’s reasonable for us to begin restructuring our testing strategy as our community COVID transmission rate reaches zero, but, of course we do not want to sacrifice any of the thoroughness of our current system. Look for an email later today with your testing instructions.

On September 20, we will begin randomly selecting students from pools (watch this video by Mr. Heckmann with information about our pool testing method) representing the whole school community, but we will only test 50% of the total population. As a community we are earning our way, through a disciplined approach and a shared sense of responsibility for each other, to a less frequent (and less costly) testing program. We have earned high marks and the respect of our health officials.

In a sense, I’m saying that as we sharpen our sense of self-awareness about the choices we make, we profoundly impact our overall community. Among my favorite authors is Malcolm Gladwell, who discusses the topic of self-awareness in his book, Talking to Strangers. He believes that because of our lack of self-awareness we can come to distorted understandings of each other and the people around us.

Self-awareness is not an innate skill, but rather requires nurturing, honing and regular attention. Self-awareness is a critically important characteristic in healthy human development because with it we are able to make meaning of our own lives and understand our relationship to others. This pandemic offers us an opportunity to unlock the gifts of self-awareness not only in the hearts and minds of our children but also in ourselves.

I believe that as educators and parents, among the most transformative and lifelong important lessons we can impart to our children is to broaden their sense of self-awareness. Part of our curriculum here at ASFM is directed toward helping students develop a stronger sense of self-awareness as learners, citizens, and young adults. As you travel to school, make plans for the weekend, or engage in family outings you are presented with opportunities to broaden your children’s skills in self-awareness. What lessons do you want them to learn as they grow into themselves? How does this moment offer an opportunity to teach those lessons?

Next Thursday we have a day off from school. What will you do? As the Dean of Students at my former school, Middlesex School, would say before every weekend, “make good choices.” I’m emphasizing this statement by pointing out that you are not just making a simple choice, rather you are faced with an opportunity to teach a transformative lesson in self-awareness. We continue to drive down our COVID transmission rate because of your disciplined commitment to a “shared responsibility.” Now I’m asking you to take the opportunity to partner with us in teaching perhaps the most important lesson for your children’s maturation, the art of self-awareness--and while doing this turn the mirror towards yourself knowing that this is a skill that can dim over time. Be safe. Be healthy. And remember, together we rise.

Welcome back home, Eagles!

Onward, George