Message from the Superintendent

Richard Boerner

Dear Graded Community,

The 2020-21 school year began from a distance as the COVID-19 pandemic persisted. Fortunately, distance learning did not last much longer. In October, Graded piloted Eagle Flight Testing, an on-campus experience during which students spent two days getting acquainted with new in-person learning health and safety protocols. The campus was retrofitted to mitigate the spread of the virus, and teachers underwent extensive training in preparation for their students’ return. 

By November, the Graded campus was authorized to open at 35% occupancy. Teachers began offering full-time dual-synchronous learning, simultaneously instructing students in person and remotely. Without question, adapting to this teaching model was one of the most challenging tasks our educators have ever faced.

Having students back on campus – even just 35% each day – was a real boost to our community. Learning is inherently a collaborative process, best facilitated by a close connection between teacher and student. Throughout the pandemic – whether we were operating from a distance or in person – this belief was at the forefront of our minds.

A spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations required us to migrate back to distance learning in March 2021, exactly one year from the day of our initial closure. By mid-April, we were able to reopen campus and conclude the school year at a student occupancy of 35%.

While the academic year was met with uncertainty, and change became the norm rather than the exception, the Graded community remained close and connected. Nothing evidenced this more than the high faculty retention rate. Fewer than 10 foreign faculty members departed Graded for new destinations, marking another year of tremendously low turnover.

The low faculty attrition we experienced positively affected learning throughout the institution. Its impact can be seen in the progress the school is making to ensure that each student’s learning is deep, enduring, and transferable. To facilitate this process, the Graded Learning Lab launched a Deeper Learning Training Pilot. Twenty-two Graded teachers participated in the ten-week training produced by the Teaching and Learning Department in collaboration with external partners Dr. Kevin Mattingly of Columbia University, the Stanford, Explo Elevate, and the Institute for Social and Emotional Learning. 

Due to the pandemic, members of Graded’s senior class and their international counterparts did not sit for their IB exams. Instead, the Class of 2021 was evaluated by independent assessments and predicted grades. Once again, our seniors received favorable news from the world’s most selective colleges and universities.

The end of the 2020-21 academic year left us wondering what school would look like when we reopened in August. Would we resume in-person learning for all of our students, or would it be conducted online? We have come to accept ambiguity and disruption in our lives, and the adaptability and flexibility demonstrated by our community will be remembered long after the pandemic is over. For all of us, let us hope that is sooner rather than later.

In admiration,

Richard Boerner