RPS Voices: The Rutgers Prep Blog
Looking back, it seems clear that the global COVID-19 pandemic spent the better part of 2020 wreaking havoc on both our health and on our ability to plan. Every profession has seen unanticipated “firsts” as a result of the pandemic. In the world of college counseling, one huge change came as a result of the rising tide of campus closings in schools across the country which ultimately left no venues in which nationally standardized tests could be administered. The two major exams that typically figure prominently in the plans of college-bound high school students, the ACT and the SAT, were suddenly among the long list of experiences that had been “COVID-canceled” because there was no place to administer the tests.
It is no secret that the pandemic of COVID-19 has uprooted “traditional” practices in schools in the classroom and in athletics, but one vital program in schools has been impacted at an even greater level due to its dependence on external institutions. The people in this field demonstrate flexibility, creativity, and resilience at extraordinary levels, and not only during the pandemic. They are experts in adjusting to new practices and initiatives; they are forward and nimble thinkers, constantly developing and improving their practices to meet the demands of a competitive college placement market. THEY are College Counselors, and they are committed to guiding students and families to find a path for the future that is not only financially and academically successful, but also toward one that will bring fulfillment and happiness.
Despite the challenges of this year, the Rutgers Preparatory School Music Department continues to provide a vibrant array of musical course offerings to our Upper School students. The Department is committed to immersing our students in high-quality music instruction and safe music-making by upholding standard use of PPE, plexiglass shields, social distancing, and rehearsing outdoors as the weather allows. They are sharing the joy of playing together in student ensembles in person, providing enriching and engaging remote instruction, and eagerly awaiting the day when our virtual members join us again.
The science department has eagerly welcomed students back to campus and to the lab this year. Our goal has always been to give students direct, hands-on experience in the lab, and, from plexiglass dividers to physical distancing and PPE, we have been able to continue to offer this experience even during the current pandemic. Our program is designed to build from an introduction to the lab in the beginning years to student-directed research projects in higher-level courses.
"Creativity is contagious; pass it on” -Albert Einstein
This simple but profound quote embodies the approach of Rutgers Preparatory School’s Lower and Middle School Art Teacher, Mrs. Erin Varga. It is not only her creativity that is contagious, it is also her positive energy, genuine nature, and adventurous mindset that deeply inspires her students. It is due to Mrs. Varga’s inspirational teachings that Rutgers Preparatory School’s Lower and Middle School students were able to transcend the pandemic and refocus their energy on creation, imagination, and self-actualization through Art.
March 2020 brought about an upheaval to what “traditional learning” in schools looked like. News outlets and social media responded with a wide range of reactions, sometimes celebrating and sometimes condemning schools for their approaches. A series of questions began to consume the minds of parents, the most pressing being: “Is my child getting the most from their Remote Learning experience?”
As many of us have had to make adjustments in transitioning to remote or hybrid models of learning, it's helpful to know how best to set ourselves and our children up for success in this new setting. Sara Nardulli, our Director of Learning Support has put together the following tips and video to help students of all ages (and maybe even parents who are working from home!) set up a workspace and create a productive environment.
Generalists vs specialists; Is there a benefit to playing sports outside of the focus? Or should children be put on the single sport training “fast track” earlier to get a leg up on the competition?
This topic has received a lot of attention over the past decade as year-round models have taken over hockey, soccer, and basketball at the youth levels. Parents have seemed to make a choice to have their children become “early specializers” with the idea that they may find success and gain an advantage amongst their peers. The three-sport high school athlete seems to be a “throwback” to an age of old school athletics.
Over the past few months, we have all experienced many changes due to COVID-19. Among those changes has been how students learn and teachers educate/teach. We went from in-person learning to virtual learning overnight in March, and now, for the start of the school year in 2020, our Middle and Upper School students will be engaged in a hybrid model, with a rotational schedule that alternates between in-person and remote instruction. It has been an enormous learning curve for us all, and the faculty at Rutgers Prep has risen to the occasion.