7/31/20

Dear Powhatan Community,

Thirty days into my interim assignment, I could not be more impressed with and grateful to my colleagues for their resilience and their care for Powhatan. In meetings focused on preparing for the start of school on August 26th, in technology training sessions, and in many other settings, my fellow teachers and staff have been engaged, thoughtful, thorough, and determined. Parents will see one more example of these qualities when you review the Academic Restart Plan to be sent to you on August 10th by Division Directors Cait Gosnell and Darren Holgate.

I am also grateful to our parents for engaging us with thoughtful and helpful questions and suggestions on the most recent survey. In that survey which most parents completed, 74.39% of those responding are supportive of our resuming school in person; 15.2% responded “maybe;” and 10.4% responded “no.” In each category, we received comments that are helping to strengthen our planning and preparations.

And our students are reconnecting with us as well. I have begun meetings with our eighth graders and in these first conversations with me, they are making clear their strong desire to be good and caring mentors and leaders. These conversations with current students – and with alumni I have spoken with in recent weeks – remind me of the competence and confidence with which Powhatan students communicate. For decades, a ceaseless strength of our school has been helping our students learn to write and speak with clarity, conviction, and civility. For Powhatan, caring for language is in many ways a “moral issue” and indeed, “caring for one another is not entirely separate from caring for words. Words are entrusted to us as equipment for our life together, to help us survive, guide, and nourish one another.” (Marilyn McEntyre at the 2004 Stone Lectures at Princeton Theological Seminary) Powhatan’s respect for written and verbal expression is more important and more needed than ever.

Please call on me with questions and concerns as we prepare for the start of Powhatan’s 73rd year.

Stay kind, resilient, and hopeful.

Sincerely,
Billy Peebles
Interim Head of School