Letter from Principal Franks
Tuesday, March 17, 2020 10:10 PM

“Hard times don’t create heroes. It is during the hard times when the ‘hero’ within us is revealed.” – Bob Riley

Dear Armatage Families,

We are in unprecedented times.  Over the past five days, all of our lives have changed in some form.  Closed schools, businesses, restaurants, fitness centers, nursing homes, places of worship etc… are now dark with the doors locked for an indefinite amount of time.  It would be easy to become distraught and feel hopeless, but the past two days have proven there is nothing that cannot happen when we work together.

Upon two days’ notice that MPLS schools would be shutting down for students for at least the next three weeks, I could not help but think, “This is not a drill, we are trained to do this,” and within literally seconds Armatage staff and educators across the district stepped up to make the foreseeable future “Okay” for children.  All day Sunday and Monday, my phone continuously rang, texts were flying, emails were plentiful and most amazingly, staff were creatively preparing work to supplement learning for the children to take home yesterday at 2:00 p.m. 

A call for volunteers asking our parents to help was sent out Sunday evening.  Monday at 6:15 a.m. the first volunteers arrived ready to assist in any fashion needed.  Throughout the day, parents came determined to make it possible for teachers to get packets and other curriculum ready for our children.  The three copy machines in our building never went silent as they continued to run materials, staple and deliver whatever teachers needed.  In addition, one parent stood at Kinkos for hours running materials simultaneously on two machines to ensure things were ready to go home at the end of the day.  All this to say, we COULD NOT have accomplished all that we did without once again, the support of our families.

During the next 8 days, teachers will be spending their time preparing lessons in the event we move to “Distance Learning.”  The intent will be to develop curriculum that students can access on the computer as well as hard copies if they do not have access to technology.  Again, this is something unparalleled to anything we have done before. Teachers will be checking their emails and I know communicating with families as we move forward with the task.   

We had a staff meeting yesterday in which there was discussion about the expectation for providing Montessori instruction from a distance.  As you know, Montessori lessons are hands-on and often require specific materials. I have instructed the staff to develop lessons that support the Minnesota State Standards but do not have to be Montessori specific.  At this point in time, we are recommending that children spend at least five hours a week engaged in some type of academics. There are a plethora of websites that educators are posting on social media for families to access at home.  

We do not know what the future holds beyond April 5th for our school district.  I do know that we are all in this together and we are Armatage strong.  Like everyone, I want to wish this away, but if we all follow the guidelines and mandates, someday this will be in the rear view mirror.

Thank you for your support and encouragement that you sent our way this week.  Dale Carnegie once said, “Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.”  We have hope and we know that despite inconveniences we may have to endure in the foreseen future, we will come out of this perhaps a bit worn and torn but stronger.  

I want to end with a precious moment from a kindergarten classroom.  Margo Hodapp was talking to her students about the importance of washing their hands while singing the ABC’s.  One of the student raised his hand and asked, “Does it count if we say it in another language?” Our children are precious and they are who we are fighting for.

Take care of yourselves and your families.


Joan Franks, Principal