Group of children playing together in the school 'cafetorium'

Thomas Walsh
BFA Principal, PreK-4

Addresses all FWSU Action Plan Targets:
1. Proficiency-Based, Personalized Learning
2. Distributed Leadership and Student Agency
3. Safe, Equitable, Healthy, Flexible Learning Environments
4. Engaged Partners: Parents and Community

We have experienced a positive start to our school year at BFA Fairfax. It has been wonderful to return back to school and re-engage with our students after the summer break. There are many things that are similar about our school year so far, but at the same time, many things have changed over the past two and half years. I have heard many people say that this is the “new” normal, but I believe it is a “different” normal. 

BFA Logo

The most dramatic difference this year is the absence of the COVID-19 protocols and their impact on our ability to engage in activities that were not accessible during the pandemic. For example, we are back eating in the cafeteria, mixing classrooms for learning activities, and having All School Morning Meetings together in the Elementary Gym once a month.

Last Friday, we came together to engage in our annual Crowning Ceremony for Kindergarten. This is a long standing tradition where we bridge our kindergarten students into our school with the support of their fifth-grade buddies. It was fantastic to witness our fifth-graders making connections with our kindergartners.  Similarly, we appreciated the opportunity to engage with families as they supported their kindergarten students in our elementary school.  As important, it was wonderful to come together as a learning community.

Eating lunch in the cafeteria is another big change for our students. For the past two years our students have eaten in their classrooms. Having this opportunity to eat in the cafeteria has been an important learning experience. It is great to witness our students practicing important social skills, managing their time, composting food scraps, and making good food choices about their breakfast and lunch options. 

What remains “different” is the continued impact of COVID-19 on how we respond to sickness, a continued shortage of staff, the increased engagement and oversight of the community around public education, and the awareness that challenges will continue to evolve and change. As much as we would like to believe things will be “normal” again, in hindsight, we know that “normal” was not always ideal either. Instead, we remain focused on refining our teaching and learning practices and structures that support all of our students. We have learned so much over the past two years and have been forced to make numerous changes to our routines and procedures. As I reflect on where we are now, I am grateful for the support we received from our community and the incredible dedication of our staff in embracing change to continue to meet  the needs of our students. We look forward to navigating whatever the “different” normal throws at us, because we are confident that we can adapt to any challenges that come our way.

Thomas Walsh
BFA Principal, PreK-4