COVID-19 Coronavirus Updates

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

MBA families:
Now in the 4th week of remote learning, I am grateful for the ways in which students, faculty, and families have worked together to make this situation as successful as possible. There have been a number of positive outcomes from this communication, and I am hopeful we will see the benefits of such virtual teaching and learning.
We are hoping to do a number of events virtually over the next few weeks, including a few assemblies. The first assembly will be held the week of April 20, 2020. We will transmit asynchronously the college essay contest and a few announcements. Our hope and plans are to do a number of events and scheduled occasions that we believe would be appreciated by our constituency.
Our students have found ways to do several important service events over the past few weeks. This past weekend several of the leadership of our Best Buddies chapter held a Zoom call and meeting for those students who are involved in this program. Other students have raised funds and made PPE's with laser printers. I am proud of both Will and Jacob Huizinga for their efforts and leadership.
I continue to be cognizant of our senior class and the events and rituals and time together at the end of their MBA experience that they are missing. I have continued to plan ways to engage them, such as the college essay contest mentioned above, and I have recently sent them a note and small gift to express our appreciation for them. I have also spoken with the senior leadership about finding ways to do services for others during this difficult time. Without question, one of the best things any of us can do when challenged or struggling is to find ways to help others. There are opportunities like the zoom call illustrated above where one can help others in this period of safe distancing.
Warm regards,
Brad Gioia, Headmaster

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Dear MBA families:
On Monday I joined an English department meeting on a Google Meet call. I was impressed with the spirit of the faculty to maintain their focus and determination for the remote learning as long as possible. They spoke encouragingly about the engagement of the students and their efforts to take this time seriously and meaningfully. We ended the conversation by mentioning the annual celebration of poetry month in April and suggested that we might set up an "April Madness" like the March Madness of the basketball tournament around talking about, reading, and writing poetry!
I think this period of time is a good moment to reflect on our own rituals and sense of who we are. A few students have mentioned to me their efforts to be more creative and self aware by practicing better self-discipline. For instance, one student told me about his doing some meditation because a teacher had discussed with him the value of finding ways to focus better and to be more thoughtful. Other students have taken this time to work on their art, music, writing, reading, or hobbies. I have found it important to look at this moment in time as a period of solitude and not isolation. Solitude, like many have suggested throughout time, can be a period of personal growth and reflection. Another important way to keep one's focus is to maintain a strong sense of your own curiosity about ideas and issues...and developing that curiosity by staying in touch with others virtually. Collaborating can be very beneficial. I urge all of you to find ways to stay in touch with one another.
The other morning, Mr. Robert Sawyer sent me a meaningful note about our recent all-school read - Endurance. He suggested that Shackleton taught us a lot about adversity and dealing with the virus and our restrictions at home:
  1. The importance of strong habits, such as cleaning their bunks daily, made a difference for Shackleton's crew.
  2. The need for patience and teamwork were critical.
  3. The personal and communal benefits of selflessness strengthened everyone.
  4. The values of flexibility and adaptability were immeasurably critical.
  5. The need for hope, optimism, and positive thinking was continually important.
I am not certain when we will be back together as a community, but I am hopeful that we will return to campus this school year.  It was encouraging this morning to hear that countries like France, Spain, and Italy, as well as some of our troubled spots in the United States, have seen some good changes in their statistics. Let's all continue to do our part in helping us get back to normalcy by practicing safe distance, staying at home, and practicing good health measures.
With warm regards,
Brad Gioia, Headmaster
I have been heartened and impressed with the work of some of our families, students, and alumni, who have served on the front lines of the coronavirus and/or spent time doing valuable service like making masks or other protective gear. Please let us know of any good stories you hear in this regard. I also thought you would enjoy seeing this op-ed written by Mark Tipps, our Athletic Director, and published in The Tennessean.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Dear MBA families:
On Sunday we learned that the President has decreed the social distance guidelines will be extended through April 30. I do not know how certain this deadline is for returning to school, but I remain hopeful that we will be back on campus in May to finish the year together. I am eager to find some meaningful ways to celebrate our community, particularly our seniors.
I am confident we can accomplish some good academic work together online. Through the remote learning we can all maintain most of the academic work we had planned for this month. I enjoyed two very good classes online this week and was impressed with the self-discipline and work of my students. In the spirit of maintaining the school calendar, I am declaring April 10 a school holiday for our students and faculty so that everyone can enjoy a long weekend. 
I have had a number of wonderful e-mails from families about creative and meaningful ways in which they have spent this time together at home. Families have reset rituals like family dinners together and discovered new routines and opportunities for the family to cook together, learned to garden, or connected with out-of-town friends and families on Zoom. I hope all of us will find more good than struggle and difficulty from this time. I am convinced more than ever now how much we must be vehement about practicing good health measures, safe distance from one another, and the right kinds of discipline, attitude, and perspective.
Warm regards,
Brad Gioia, Headmaster

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Dear MBA Community:

Remote Learning: We are pleased and grateful for the ways in which our community has embraced the remote learning so far. Most of all, we want to maintain some substantive academic work, take advantage of using technology positively, and make certain our students and families know we care about them. By the same token, I am proud of the ways our faculty and staff have worked together to support one another and to reach out to their students and advisees.

Return to School: Many of you have already read the Governor's decree that schools in Tennessee will be closed through April 24, 2020. We will adhere to that date unless there are changes in the interim, and it is likely that we will have an update. I am hopeful that we will be back on campus together by Monday, April 27, so that we can have at least a month together to finish the school year.

Events: We are currently working on calendar issues for the end of the year. Many of events have been postponed through the end of April. We are hopeful to reschedule some of those events for the last month if we are back in school by April 27. In the next weeks we will send out a revised calendar and some updates.

Community and Communications: We will do all we can to maintain a sense of commmunity during this time of remote learning and to communicate regularly with our students, faculty and staff, parents, and alumni. I am grateful for the many ways people care about one another at MBA.

Warmest regards -- Brad Gioia, Headmaster

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Dear MBA students, families, and faculty/staff:
Each week we will send updates about school and the plans for the days ahead. Like many of you, I have had to keep away from social activity because of the concerns of the virus. Since my immune system has been compromised, I am more vulnerable to the virus. This condition reminds me how important it is that we all take this situation very seriously. Being conscious of "social distancing" and taking special care to be diligent about your own health and activity at this time are of paramount importance. I also urge you to take seriously this time of remote learning with the same seriousness and good intentions that you would any academic challenges, whether we are at school or not. This time could paradoxically be a period of growth and creativity for all of us. I read yesterday that Sir Isaac Newton invented the theory of infinitesimal Calculus during the plague of the 17th Century, and Shakespeare composed some of his greatest plays during the plague of early 1600's. Perhaps all of us will find ways to make this time productive and meaningful in our own ways.
Nature of Remote Learning:
On Monday, March 23, our faculty will meet in groups to finalize their plans for remote learning. We will begin sending out information about assignments and times that our faculty will offer interactive sessions to discuss class material and assignments. Essentially, we will place information about academic work on our Scholar platform and announce times faculty will be available virtually for help and communication. Dr. Boyd will send out a schedule of these times  for interactive sessions.  
We will expect our students to keep up with these assignments and to keep up with all work. The campus buildings will be open on Monday and Tuesday, March 23-24, should students need to retrieve any books or supplies, and after that time only faculty and staff will be permitted on campus until this remote learning period is over. Students will be given grades and expected to meet these expectations during this time period. Although we will not have face-to-face classes, we will shift this paradigm to a plan where all of us take seriously and responsibly remote learning.
Time away from campus:
As I mentioned above, please take all precautions to be safe and healthy during this time, particularly by being proactive and responsible about "social distancing". Try to set up a routine that allows you to keep up with your work, sets in motion a plan to be focused and disciplined and allows you to be available virtually for interactive sessions with your teachers. I have discovered, for instance, that a daily schedule and discipline may be more important during this unusual time period and situation where we are not in regular contact with one another.
Spirit of unity and cooperation:
In many ways your commitment to the ideals of being a gentleman and responsible citizen are crucial during this period of time. Demonstrating that you are committed to the right principles, to finding ways to make this unusual situation better for all of us, and to doing your work and taking good care of yourself at this time will make a difference and distinguish our community.
I am hopeful that we will be back together soon. Although the routines and expectations these next weeks are very different, I am reminding you that all of us are expected to take these expectations seriously and with a spirit of working together successful. In the interim I am counting on all of you to make this period of time a good and positive journey for you personally and our community.
Warm regards,
Brad Gioia, Headmaster
Please remember that there will be no extracurricular activities during this remote learning period, and students should not be on campus during or after school times both during the week and on the weekends.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Dear MBA families:
We believe the best plan for the MBA community is to do online work for the two weeks following spring break. Our faculty and staff will be having discussion between now and Monday, March 23, about moving forward with these plans, but we think it would be in the best interest of the students, faculty/staff, and our families not to have classes on campus for the two weeks following spring break. 
In other words, we will not be returning to classes until at least Monday, April 6, 2020, and there will be no athletics, extra-curricular activities, or on-campus events during that time. We will initiate a remote learning program in all classes beginning on Tuesday, March 24. We will also send a weekly update letting you know about these plans and any changes in these circumstances.
Our concerns reflect the belief that the best way to contain the virus is to limit activity and contact. I have also been working with a large group of independent schools in the Nashville area about the prospect of a number of us closing for this same period of time. We believe that together we will be more effective and have a better and bigger impact on this issue.
I will follow up on these matters throughout the next weeks, but I wanted to send this message as soon as possible so that everyone can prepare for these next weeks. I understand all of these changes and worries are unsettling. We want to be of support to you and your families in every way possible. We will find good ways to keep your sons engaged during this suspension of classes on campus. We will encourage advisors to stay in touch and to be of support in any ways they can.
With warm regards,

Brad Gioia, Headmaster

Helping Hands: Members of the MBA cummunity who are working to help during the COVID-19 crisis

List of 11 frequently asked questions.

  • Jim O'Neill (’78)

    Jim helped his Boston-based company, Entegris, divert part of its manufacturing capacity to making masks for the communities where their employees live and for local hospitals. 
  • Stephen Choate (’99)

    Stephen is a staff orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist at Ochsner Health in New Orleans. He is also team physician for the New Orleans Saints. Ochsner has taken on about 60% of the covid cases in the state of Louisiana. At the peak of this pandemic, it staffed over 150 icu beds. Stephen has been covering shifts in the ICU to help out his medical colleagues. He writes that it has, "been an eye opening experience. Fortunately, the number of new cases appear to be decreasing and we’re seeing some signs of improvement."
  • Brent Burrish (’00)

    Brent serves as a hospital CEO outside of Orlando FL at St. Cloud Regional Medical Center.  He writes:

    Every day, for over a month, I have been privileged to lead and work aside hundreds of trained physicians, nurses, therapists, technologists, registrars, and others, who remain steadfast and selfless.  During an active State of Emergency worldwide, the silver lining which I have witnessed is the unity in preparation, dedication, and support for these true heroes on the front line.  Thank you for highlighting them in MBA's communications.
  • Jameson Norton (’02)

    Jameson was appointed the Chief Administrator of the “Metro Hospital”, by the State team responsible for setting up a temporary hospital for the treatment of COVID-19. Details are in flux. Originally the facility was going to be 1600 beds at the Metro Civic Center. Now the size has been reduced and a more permanent site is being considered.
  • Barton Sanders (’05)

    Barton Sanders is on the front lines at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. For the past two weeks he has been leading a Palliative Care team in the ER. This week he will be serving in a Hospice Unit.

    Barton is a board certified Internal Medicine doctor with a specialty in Palliative Care. He graduated from University Tennessee Medical School then did a Residency and Fellowship at University Alabama Birmingham Medical School before his move to NY.
  • Kevin Seitz (’06)

    Dr. Kevin Seitz (’06) is a Chief Resident at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, WA. Over the last several years, Kevin has built the foundation for a clinical research career in Critical Care and Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, which is lung failure like that caused by COVID-19. After an outbreak of COVID-19 at a local Seattle nursing home seven weeks ago, Kevin and his team started working tirelessly to transform their hospital to stay ahead of the virus. Kevin shares, “Its a profoundly sad time across the country, but acknowledging all the pain and the changes that we are going through, I also feel fortunate and energized being able to contribute with this work.” Kevin will be returning to Nashville this summer as a Pulmonary and Critical Care fellow at Vanderbilt.
  • Jeff Francis (’09)

    Dr. Jeff Francis (’09), an Emergency Medicine Resident, is in the thick of it in NYC. 
    Click here for more information.
  • JT Braun (’13)

    JT continues to serves as a Metro Police Officer, keeping Nashville safe during the pandemic.
  • Troy Jiang (’16)

    Troy Jiang (’16) is volunteering with the new non-profit organization Feed The Front Line, which uses donations to purchase meals from Nashville restaurants for healthcare workers and those on the front line of this pandemic.  
  • Patrick Dennis (’18) and Jackson Abbey (’18)

    Patrick Dennis (’18) and Jackson Abbey (’18) (along with some local Vanderbilt students from Ensworth and Harpeth Hall) have started a fundraising campaign for aiding and assisting Vanderbilt Medical Center employees, staff, and caretakers during this time of epidemic.  
  • Will Huizinga (’21) and Jacob Huizinga (’22)

    Will Huizinga (’21) and Jacob Huizinga (’22) and their dad Phillip, are making face masks and shields for healthcare workers.  

Montgomery Bell Academy

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Nashville, TN 37205
(615) 298-5514