Please Limit Your Covid Exposure Potential This Holiday Season

Students are Wearing Mask While Going To Private School

The holidays breaks are closer than we think, and under normal circumstances we’d all probably be in the process of making plans to visit family and friends to enjoy some special times together. However, as we all know, these are not normal times and we’re all making adjustments to keep ourselves and our family members safe in the midst of a worldwide pandemic.

Now that Strelitz International Academy has been in session for more than a month, we’re happy to announce that we have not experienced any COVID cases within our school community thus far. We have worked very hard to keep our students, faculty, and staff well protected and it appears that our efforts have been well worth it.

We’d like to keep this success going, which is why we’re asking our students’ parents to please limit your out-of-area travel this coming holiday season if at all possible. If you already have plans and intend to travel over the holidays, we kindly ask that you notify our School Nurse or the Head of School so we can take the proper precautions recommended by the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) upon your student’s return. This may include, but is not limited to, temporarily excluding your child from immediately returning from school after returning.

We will be assessing the potential risk factors involved with your travel, including the mode of transportation used, high risk events you and your child may be exposed to while traveling, and if you are travelling to an area that is considered a “hot spot” for COVID-19 cases.

According to the Virginia Department of Health, the following are examples of activities and situations that can increase your exposure threat:

– Being in an area that is currently experiencing a high level of COVID-19 cases. You can check the CDC COVID-19 tracker [link:] for domestic travel, or their international Travel Recommendations by Destination [link:].

– Going to a large social gathering such as a wedding, funeral, or party.
– Attending mass gatherings such as sporting events, concerts, or parades.
– Being in any crowded area such as restaurants, bars, airports, bus and train stations, or movie theaters.
– Traveling on a cruise ship or river boat.

We understand how important family time is, but we also understand these are very trying times for everyone. Please help us keep everyone safe this holiday season by keeping us in the loop of any travel plans.

How you can help prepare your kids (and yourselves) to return to group care, camp or school

Teacher Reading to Preschoolers

Many of us are probably experiencing “quarantine fatigue.” We have been home with our families for far longer than any of us has ever been in the past. Literally. In the house or our yards, many of us without the distraction of going into school, work, or shops. As we begin to fantasize about what it will be like to return to some of our previous routines, keep in mind that things will not “return to normal.” There will be, at least, for the most part, a new normal. One that may include: mask-wearing caretakers, counselors, and teachers; morning welcome screenings with temperature measuring and being asked the same questions day after day; new illness policies, a lower bar for sending home children who are not feeling well; new policies for return after being sick. There will be a robust emphasis on handwashing, covering coughs, sneezes, and not touching the T-Zone (eyes, nose, mouth). Some kids may wear masks to camp or school. Activities, schedules & seating will need to be audited to accommodate safe spacing & limiting the number of people in a space.

It is imperative that we talk to our kids now about what things may look like & feel like in the coming weeks and months. You, as the parent, get to set the tone, share the messages at an age-appropriate level, set the stage in a way that you see fit. Now is also the time to be modeling the behaviors and skills your child will need to use at camp or school: meticulous hand washing with soap and scrubbing for 20 seconds; keeping a distance from those who are coughing or not feeling well; keeping their hands off their faces (not easy for any of us); covering coughs and sneezes; what to do if we cough or sneeze in our hands. Most of you have been working on this long before COVID-19, but now you need to find the momentum to keep it going.

We all must work to maintain and strengthen our immune systems so we are up for the task when we head back into the midst of other humans. This includes getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods, staying hydrated, and moving our bodies every day.

Speaking of the immune system, this is NOT the time to push off necessary vaccinations. Your child’s provider may be making appointments for the summer or even seeing patients for well checks and needed vaccinations. It’s important that infants and toddlers continue to receive their immunizations on time. Immunizations keep infants and children safe by protecting them from vaccine-preventable diseases like measles and whooping cough (pertussis). The second round of Measles, Mumps & Rubella, as well as Varicella will still be required for Kindergarten. We cannot return to camp or school, only to find ourselves dealing with a measles outbreak as our communities gather back together.

There is much to consider, sort, digest, and adjust to during this health crisis. If we, the adults, are feeling the stress, we know that our kids are, too. Preparing them (and ourselves) for a healthy return to care, camp and school can help increase confidence and reduce anxiety. Jewish Family Service and our school counselors may be able to help you and your family. It is not too early to begin filling toolboxes with the skills and knowledge that will help our children make healthy, successful transitions back to camp and school.


Parenting Styles That Can Cause Entitlement in Kids and What To Do To Change Them

Teacher Reading to Preschoolers

Everyone wants what’s best for their children, but sometimes that means providing guidance that may not be popular. Yet many parents still give in to their kids’ whims simply to avoid a tantrum, negotiations or confrontation. And while it is okay to give in every once in a while, doing it consistently can lead to self-entitlement issues in your children, which will end up making everyone more miserable in the long run. Here are a few parenting styles that can cause entitlement, and what you can do to provide better guidance:

The Enabler: Enabling your child can start with small things but can quickly escalate to the point where you are constantly frustrated by your child’s behavior and still do nothing to adjust it. Examples might include if your child expects you to drop everything so you can give them a ride to the mall or to a friend’s house or to keep their room clean and tidy because that’s what you’ve always done. Instead, let your children know that you will take them to things like extra-curricular activities for school, but that you are not a taxi. That you will do laundry on certain days but will only wash what is properly placed in the laundry hamper. If your child has to wear a dirty soccer uniform because the rules were not followed, it will quickly reinforce your expectations.

The Rescuer: If your child constantly “forgets” things that require you to help them out in the 11th hour, they will always expect you to come to their rescue. This might include helping them out with school projects, bringing them their lunch or gear for swim practice, etc. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t jump in from time to time for legitimate reasons, but you shouldn’t make a habit of it. Instead, let your children know that you will not rescue them for repeated forgetfulness, then help them figure out better ways to keep from needing to be rescued. It may be difficult to play out, but the behavior should change on its own once your child understands they need to be responsible for their own actions—and will pay the consequences in one way or another if they don’t.

There are several other types of parenting styles that can lead to entitlement in your children, but the best solution in every case is to have a frank conversation with your children about what you will and will not do for them, and what you expect from them. Strelitz International Academy will help you reinforce your position by engaging your children at school and making them responsible for their learning. Together, we can create a positive environment at both home and school that will make your children better, more well-rounded citizens of the world.

Educational Program at IB PYP School

Students at Strelitz International Academy


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Highlights of Our IB PYP Programme:

  1. Inquiry-based approach so learning can thrive in the classroom and beyond.
  2. Helps to boost a child’s brain using skills, knowledge and fun activities.
  3. Utilizes globally significant transdisciplinary themes to guide deeper learning.
  4. Cultivates educators who are dedicated and passionate through unique professional experiences.
  5. Highlights the translation of best practices in the classroom to inspire student engagement.

EY3 Learning About Passover Via Distance Learning

Students Learning About Passover Via Distance Learning

Tradition and technology intermingled this spring as EY3 students learned about the traditions of Passover in a rather non-traditional way. As part of the Primary Years Programme (PYP) of the International Baccalaureate curriculum, there are six transdisciplinary themes:

  1. Who we are
  2. Where we are in place and time
  3. How we express ourselves
  4. How the world works
  5. How we organize ourselves
  6. Sharing the planet

At the beginning of April, our EY3 teachers began introducing the “How the world works” theme through virtual learning sessions. The central idea of the theme is the concept that various cycles occur in nature and throughout the world. With that in mind, our EY3 classes began with a line of inquiry about cycles in our everyday lives. Our teachers chose a very relatable way of introducing this idea in that cycles are continuously happening all around us every day. Some thoughts included our daily routines of waking up every day, having breakfast, going to school, and more.

As Passover approached, our teachers easily segued into the idea of other cycles in our lives, including the yearly cycle of our Jewish holidays. This led to learning that Passover occurs in the spring, which is a part of the cycle of seasons. In context, Passover was a spring festival that was connected to the offering of the “first-fruits of the barley,” as barley was the first grain to be ripened and harvested in the Land of Israel.

It’s actually pretty heady material if you think about it. But through engagement, association, and involvement, our students were able to digest the subject matter and relate to it in a way that made sense in their young minds. And in a manner that will help them better understand future concepts as they are discussed.

This is the very foundation of what the Strelitz International Academy is trying to achieve in creating students who are well-rounded and encouraging them to develop independence and take responsibility for their own learning. We focus on the development of the whole child as a thinker and inquirer in both the classroom and in the world outside—even if that means we need to use new models of teaching, such as using distance learning, to continue education in the face of adversity.

Primary Years Distance Learning Reflections

Primary Years Distance Learning

It is hard to believe that we are in Week Four of Distance Learning. Though we miss our students more than anything, we have developed a great routine “at school” which is hopefully reflected at home! Thank you for all of your support. We know at times it can feel overwhelming, and parents are expected to be super humans because of this quarantine.

Educators around the globe agree that this is an opportunity for us to develop resourcefulness, agency, and strong bonds as a family. We, as many other schools all over the world, will be adjusting our curriculum as needed when we return in the fall. Our teachers have amazing superpowers and we know our students will be fine academically.

As an IB® candidate school we reflect on the process. Below are some suggested “IB Style” home guidelines as we finish out the school year. We are continually working on developing these IB® Learner Profile (LP) traits and you will see them referenced throughout this reflection:

  1. Open-Minded
  2. Reflective
  3. Communicators
  4. Thinkers
  5. Knowledgeable
  6. Inquirer
  7. Risk-Takers
  8. Caring
  9. Well-Balanced
  10. Principled

Keep an Established Schedule –
IB® LP traits: Open-Minded, Reflective, Communicator, Principled
Though a schedule may not be something your family can do easily under these circumstances, we feel strongly that it helps keep normalcy in place. Use the Meet schedule we provided for your child’s class. Print it or customize your own. To customize your own, open the document and Make a Copy (click on the File tab) and put in a schedule that works for your family including independent working times, brain breaks, and lunch/recess. Teachers know that Distance Learning schedules need to be flexible. If something isn’t working for your family, please let us know.

Set Clear Expectations –
IB® LP traits: Open-Minded, Reflective, Communicator, Caring, Well-Balanced, Principled
These guidelines should include the following:

*Be Ready to Learn – Set up your expectations with your child for being up, dressed, and on time for a scheduled Meet. Eat breakfast before learning time begins. There is no need to show up for your child if they are not awake or ready. Contact your child’s teacher to let them know your child is running a little late or wasn’t able to make it. Teachers may be able to schedule some time to review what was missed.

*Limit Distractions – Make sure that your child has a designated learning space. If needed, designate one item as a fidget and remove all other playful distractions.

*Practice Mindfulness – Once children reach their threshold, sometimes there is no coming back and learning has to stop. Forcing your child to keep going can build up frustration and anxiety. If your child is demonstrating frustration, stop and come back to finish later. Communicate this with your child’s teacher. They may be able to suggest some strategies. Please remember that our school counselors are available to talk to students. Contact Debbie Mayer ( or Michelle Fenley ( at any time to set up an appointment.

Respect the Learning Space and Learning Time –
IB ® LP Traits: Thinker, Inquirer, Risk-Taker, Communicator, Principled, Risk-Taker
Some children need help, yet we would like for them to continue to develop agency. If needed, help your child with instructions then leave them to finish the work. Try to avoid sitting right next to them during all of their asynchronous activities. Ask 3 Before Me is a great way for your child to get assistance without always coming to you. Our Chrome books have the capability to use the microphone on a google search, and it can be set up to read selected text. Hear text read aloud ( Call a classmate or ask an older sibling if there is a question about an assignment. Pose a question in the Google Classroom stream. Younger students will need a little more assistance, but anything you can do to support them finding an answer on their own is great for developing independence.

Let Them Meet –
IB ® LP Traits
: Caring, Communicator, Knowledgeable, Well-Balanced
Please be mindful and avoid coming into the background area when students are meeting for instructional time. We love having you listen out of the viewing area so you can know what is going, but please do not join a class meeting once learning has begun. For your child and other students, this can keep their attention off of the teacher or class discussion. You can always contact your child’s teacher for an update or explanation. If it is a lunch or social Meet then please join in, but if your child is in a class Meet, please allow the learning to take place uninterrupted.

Accountability is Important –
IB ® LP Traits
– Reflective, Communicator, Thinker, Knowledgeable, Inquirer, Risk-Taker, Principled
We put a lot of time into making learning happen in the classroom, physical or virtual. Teachers are held accountable for lesson plans, being knowledgeable about subject content, and so much more. We also hold our students accountable for their work. We are keeping attendance in various ways, assessing learning, giving feedback and providing grades for assignments. Our teachers may ask you about missed assignments. Please don’t stress or get upset if this happens. We are passionate about what we do. Our teachers are very understanding and can make accommodations or modify activities for your child and family circumstances. We expect all of our teachers, including specialties, to hold office hours, plan and execute learning activities, and be there for our students and families. We will be providing a third term report card with the acknowledgment that learning has taken place despite the circumstances out of our control.

Our entire school was able to transition to online learning quickly. We knew how important it was to not miss a step and get our students into a routine as quickly as possible. We did it in one day while other schools took a week or more to prepare. We love our students and miss being with them in person. We will continue to make necessary adaptations as we go through this process. We are SIA – proud and strong!

SIA Distance Learning is Out of this (Virtual) World

Distance Learning at SIA

In a time of unquestionable uncertainty, one thing is certain, the students at the Strelitz International Academy continue to learn, engage and connect virtually with their classmates and teachers since school went online on March 16.

Early in March, no one would have believed the possibility of the Coronovirus coming to the U.S. In amazing foresight, SIA Head of School, Heather Moore, told the SIA staff to be prepared for the possibility of schools closing. Teachers were asked to imagine a virtual version of the same lessons they were teaching at school.

Janet Jenkins, Primary Years Director, created a Google booklet of the many websites and online tools to help teachers make their lessons engaging. She stated, “At SIA we take pride in delivering a quality learning experience to our students in order to fulfill our mission. The same is our goal under exceptional circumstances that may require changes to the way instruction is delivered. Should the school be closed for any reason for an extended period of time, we will continue to execute daily lessons through the means of Distance Learning. While we are unable to truly replicate the amazing interactive experiences we offer in our classrooms, we will still provide our students with meaningful instruction that meets expected standards and continues to cover grade level curriculum objectives through an online environment.”

Online Learning Program

Head of School, Heather Moore was proud to say, “When schools closed starting on March 16, we were ready for online learning. I was so proud of the faculty and staff at SIA. They have created and implemented engaging online lessons, assignments and hands on activities from the first day of distance learning. When I spoke with other schools nationwide, we have been able to provide assistance and tips on the effective distance learning program that we have implemented from the first week school was closed.”

Online Classroom

Early Years Director, Lorna Orleans knew this was going to be a learning curve for the Early Years teachers, “We are always encouraging learning off screen, and now we would be asking students to get on a screen for their learning.” Nevertheless the preschool teachers persevered, they created classroom websites, morning meetings and hands on lessons to keep the children engaged and connected to the school and each other. In a time of uncertainty, the children crave routine and engagement. The students loved Mr. Adam, SIA PE Teacher’s, active dance videos to get everyone up and moving! In addition, Media Specialist Melanie Columbus created some fun literacy challenges such as the Library Doughnut Challenge based on the book, Arnie the Doughnut. Even the infants and toddlers have been in on the action with virtual bedtime stories and Shabbat singalongs! “I felt that it was very important for our staff and families to stay connected with each other during this stressful time. Shabbat is a time to relax and enjoy each other, so we wanted to ensure continuity for our little ones,” explains Elyssa Brinn, SIA Early Years Assistant Director.

Virtual Learning

Judaic Studies Director, Rashi Brashevitzky, adds, “here at SIA we take pride in being able to continue to provide fun, interactive and engaging Judaic programming for our students from a distance.” Using puppets, stories, songs, and interactive, digital, scavenger hunts and Youtube videos, Brashevitzky has continued to ensure that our students have the necessary tools to learn about and celebrate Shabbat and Jewish holidays. Each of our Primary Years students received special Matzah to use at their Seders and will be well prepared to participate in their family celebrations due to our excellent distance learning program!

The mental health and wellbeing has been an important part of the transition to distance learning. Students are able to go at their own pace, but they are motivated by the daily instruction and connections with their teachers and classmates during class time over Google Meet. Kindergarten Teacher, Terri Kraley wrote to the kindergarten parents, “Please don’t stress – we are in this together! We understand this is a sensitive time and you are also preparing for your week: caring and scheduling for your family.” In addition, school counselors have been available for students and faculty that need support.

Moore explains, “One of the special things about SIA is the close community. I am proud to say that the SIA community and education continues to be so strong even virtually!”

Parent and board member Aaron Kass is so pleased with his children’s experiences and in awe of the dedication of their teachers. His children are currently in grades 3 and kindergarten, and his youngest will be starting in EY2 this fall. “Our family has been blown away by the comprehensive, content-driven approach, full of warmth and care, shown by our children’s teachers engaged in distance learning. It’s clear that the hours they put in “on screen” are backed up by numerous hours of preparation “off screen” and we are so thankful for them.”

Looking to enroll your children at SIA this fall? Even the admissions office is up and running virtually. We are scheduling Zoom calls and giving virtual tours, so that families can continue to enroll for the 2020-2021 school year. Email Carin Simon, Admissions Director to schedule your virtual tour today!

First Week of Remote Learning Experience from Strelitz International Academy

Dear Strelitz International Academy Supporters,

First and foremost, we pray that you, our SIA family, stay healthy and safe during these uncertain times. We are all adjusting to the new normal here at SIA with remote learning. Our faculty and staff are working harder than ever to bring inspiration, continued learning, and structure to our students in their homes. As we end our first week of online learning and reflect on all that our teachers and families have accomplished in just a few days, it is truly amazing to see our human ability to constructively adapt. We thank everyone who is working so hard to create this new educational environment – teachers, administrators, parents, students, and supporters.

Monday was a different kind of day. There were no students in our hallways. The typical laughter and chatter were absent, creating a sad silence. We are now faced with a new normal, and our new normal is truly inspiring .

SIA possesses a faculty of learners, innovators, and dedicated educators. While walking through the hallways, we saw teachers working together, helping each other master the technology needed to teach our students. The learning curve is amazing to see. This will not be easy for our parents, students, or teachers.

Teaching remotely will present many challenges, but we have seen teachers stepping up and getting ready to do just that. There were groups of teachers strategizing while others were learning new programs and software. One teacher was already preparing songs for our school’s first online Shabbat assembly with our Primary Years families. Our teachers are deeply committed to the education of their students. As a school, we are deeply committed to doing everything within our power to help our families, faculty, and staff meet the technological, educational, and fiscal challenges that lie ahead. Changes may come daily or weekly, and we will all be on our toes to adjust, rearrange, and move forward. We will continue to keep you abreast of our progress.

May we all see the good, have faith, courage, and the strength to adapt to change in our new world.

An integral part of the Strelitz International Academy is the relationships we build between students, parents, teachers, and the greater community. The foundation of our school community is our core values of Repairing the World, Respect, Love of Learning, and Community. These values are upheld by all of our constituents, creating a system of shared beliefs. Graduates of SIA are critical thinkers, confident leaders, respectful communicators, and caring collaborators who are good citizens of the world.

Thank you for your continued support during this trying and difficult time.

Shabbat Shalom!

Heather V. Moore
Head of School

David Leon
Board President

Patti Seeman
Director of Development

Strelitz International Academy on Coast Live!

Strelitz International Academy is proud to have been featured on the WTKR Coast Live show recently to go over how we’re the only primary International Baccalaureate Program in Hampton Roads, serving children from age six weeks through fifth grade.

Check out the video below to see or visit this Coast Live link to view the full interview. To learn more about what the International Baccalaureate program at Strelitz International Academy works, visit our What Is The International Baccalaureate®Page!

Primary Years (K-5)

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Early Years (Infant - EY4)

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