News Details

Michelle Kimso

Two Rivers Families,

As we approach the end of our first semester together, it is with deep gratitude that I serve with and beside you in supporting your children's remote learning. I know personally that parenting, working, and sustaining family and self through a pandemic is complex and challenging. From where I stand as your executive director, I have never seen a more engaged and committed village. You are doing great! Breathe. You are making a difference in your students learning. Last week I encouraged our staff to take time over the break to pause, celebrate your impact, reflect, and refresh. I am encouraging you and our students to do the same!

As we head into the winter break, I want to provide you with an update about our plan for the third quarter. Based on our review of local and national health and safety indicators and survey feedback, we will continue in our remote posture through the third quarter. Our survey results showed that a majority of families prefer that their students continue learning remotely (63%) and that a significant majority of staff remain uncomfortable with onsite activity (80%). As a community, we are hopeful and interested to learn more about the use of COVID-19 testing strategies and vaccines to increase safety; however, to date, these options do not change our overall outlook or our plan for the third quarter.

Next quarter we will continue growing our capacity for small, specialized onsite activities. Specifically, on January 21, we will launch "Learning Hubs" through a partnership with AlphaBEST, our before and aftercare provider. AlphaBEST will initially support remote learning onsite at Young in three classrooms for Two Rivers students who are not finding success remotely. Each classroom can support up to nine students and will be led by two AlphaBEST staff members. Thus far, we have reached out to nearly fifty K-8 families identified for support by school teams. We have registered nearly twenty students for the available 27 spaces.

As we think about quarter three and beyond, we are actively building a model for limited onsite connection and instruction in grades PS3 and PK4. It is our hope that we can start small and grow onsite instruction for our youngest scholars. Our school teams are currently grappling with designs to identify the best path forward for in-person options for early grades. Even as we build the model, we are staying true to our design principles and our decision making protocol for being on site. We will plan to share an update on planning in this area when we return in January.

We will continue to structure opportunities for students to experience joy and receive in-person support. Our overall approach will remain the same: Do what our staff, families, and context tell us is safe while doubling down on a robust remote option that we know is vital for all students right now. We will also continue to ensure that every opportunity will remain optional for staff and students. You can find a summary of the survey insights from staff and families and our plan for the third quarter here.

The new year is fast approaching, and the future for our students is incredibly bright and exciting --- we all need to rest and restore to get our full shine on when we come back together. I look forward to seeing you in the New Year!

In peace and gratitude,

Dr. Kristina

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Michelle Kimso

Two Rivers Families,

At the start of School Year 2020-21, Two Rivers made the difficult decision to begin the year fully remote. Since then, we have focused on building a strong remote learning option for our students and prioritized the health and safety of our community and continuity of learning.

We are pleased to share that we are seeing strong signs of success:

  • According to our attendance data, students' daily engagement rates in our remote program remain high, hovering just below 100% across all three of our schools.
  • According to data from our virtual learning platform, our students are consistently logging in and authentically engaging with new and challenging content --- and every single Two Rivers student is meaningfully connecting with their teachers.
  • According to recent family survey data, 87% of Two Rivers families currently feel "supported" or "very supported" by Two Rivers and more than three-quarters of families identified our teachers' communication with them as a strength.

Based on local and national public health information and recent feedback from families and staff about their experience with our current program and preferences for onsite learning, Two Rivers will continue with remote instruction through the end of our second quarter on January 15, 2021. This decision reflects the reality that little has changed in our health context since August and again prioritizes the voice, health, and safety of our entire community, while minimizing disruption to our students' education and allowing us to focus on providing a robust remote learning program for all of our students. Based on feedback from over 450 Two Rivers families responding to our survey, we know that for a majority of our families (63%), this news matches your current learning preference and reflects your own focus on safety.

While we will continue to deliver and strengthen a Two Rivers remote program that is accessible and engaging, our goal remains to implement a deliberate on-ramp to learning onsite that reflects the feedback of our community, with opportunities starting in early November. Our staff and family feedback identified several priority areas for enhancing our current academic programming by bringing students back on campus:

  1. Staff and families are concerned for our highest need students who need a more stable or structured learning environment than they currently can access;
  2. Families overwhelmingly expressed the need for increased social engagement for their students; and
  3. Families of our youngest learners, who have the least ability to learn independently, expressed a stronger desire for onsite instruction.

In partnership with families, we are working to meet the needs of our community through the targeted expansion of in-person opportunities in these areas. These opportunities require research, additional resources, extensive planning, and additional family collaboration and feedback. Already, we have made critical investments and completed the work needed to ready our buildings for onsite activities in accordance with current health and safety protocols. Our diligent preparation allowed us to offer all of our preschool (PS3) students the opportunity to meet their teachers safely onsite before the start of school using our outdoor space at the Young Campus. It has also enabled us to provide one-on-one, in-person activities for students in need of specific supports or services that cannot be provided remotely. Our onsite activities to date have all been implemented safely and successfully.

In our next steps, we will shape opportunities for learning and connection on-site in collaboration with our families and staff. We have already learned a great deal about in-person activities during COVID-19 from schools and daycares across the country and we have engaged with our own PSA, staff, and partners to do some initial planning. We have also heard from families and staff that understanding more about what an in-person experience will look like at Two Rivers is important to informing your perspective and decision-making moving forward. In the coming weeks, you will see us sharing more detailed protocols for onsite learning and asking for additional insights to build on the feedback you've already provided. Finally, we will be doing some targeted outreach to solidify interest in upcoming onsite opportunities.

We encourage you to join us on Wednesday, October 14th, from 6:30pm-7:30pm, for another virtual Family Town Hall. We look forward to sharing more information about our decision to remain remote and seeking your initial input on our current planning for onsite opportunities. In advance of the town hall, families can share questions with us at You can also visit me in "virtual office hours" to share your thoughts directly. Details for the town hall, including Zoom links, and information about visiting my virtual office hours can be found in this week's edition of The Trib.

Like many of the events of this year, the weight that our families and staff are carrying right now is hard to put into words. We are so grateful for the partnership of our families through this moment and we cannot thank you enough for all that you are doing to support your children through this time. As we continue in this work with you to ensure your child is growing and thriving in the ways set out in our mission, please know that we are doing everything we can to protect your students' development and provide a uniquely Two Rivers education during this pandemic.

With gratitude,

Dr. Kristina

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Michelle Kimso

By identifying and recognizing award-winning efforts, the Design Challenge seeks to stimulate the development and adoption of direct assessments of social-emotional (SE) competence supporting effective instruction and positive student development. This is recognition by a national organization for Two Rivers creation of rubrics around our scholarly habits aligned with the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning.

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Michelle Kimso

July 16, 2020

Hello Two Rivers Families,

It is my pleasure to introduce myself as your new Executive Director! I am so glad to have met so many of you or witnessed the beauty and brilliance of your students during my years as an instructional partner and through the interview process. Unfortunately, this pandemic has limited my ability to be in physical proximity to you all this summer. However, I want you to know that I am in the work with you all and am diligently preparing for our safe and meaningful return to school. Back-to-School is a special time for Two Rivers. Every August, we come together as a committed community to bring life to our mission with open hearts and fresh eyes. This year, like years past, we are working to build strong bonds with one another and prepare experiences that are the hallmark of Two Rivers: deep learning that is joyful, engaging, challenging, and empowering.

While COVID-19 has upended our traditional notion of school, our staff is committed to ushering in another year of rich learning undergirded by feelings of connection and hope. It is with this commitment in mind that I write to share our plan for the start of school this fall. Over the past month, Two Rivers has engaged in an in-depth review of health and safety guidance, staff input, and your survey feedback. Eighty-six percent of our families, representing a diverse cross-section of our community, completed the citywide survey on reopening - thank you! You told us that your family's safety is your top priority; that you care deeply about your child's social connection and mental health; that you need a schedule that is consistent and minimizes further disruption; and, finally, that you want to ensure your child's learning stays on track.

Two Rivers will start the year with our students learning remotely. We anticipate supplementing our remote option with limited in-person services based on student needs identified during our continued planning and engagement. Two Rivers will continue with remote learning from the start of school on August 31, 2020, until at least the end of our first quarter on October 23, 2020. We are actively preparing to re-introduce an in-person option for students as early as the start of our second quarter in late October, if health conditions permit, and will communicate any decision with families well in advance of that date, at the beginning of October.

Our Why

After exploring in-person, hybrid, and remote options, we determined that starting the year with a powerful virtual option for all of our students is the safest starting point for our entire school community. Reflection on staff and family feedback, our mission, goals, and remote learning experiences, led us to design principles to guide reopening that include the following: a deep concern for the health and safety of our school community, family empowerment, equity and access, connection, joy, hope, and continuity of learning. All non-remote options were in conflict with our design principles of health, safety, and continuity of learning, which feedback showed were highly valued by Two Rivers families. In these uncertain times, we must have an excellent remote option that works for all of our students to minimize disruption and disentangle the quality of our students' education from the havoc of the coronavirus.

We heard from you earlier this year that any option moving forward, whether remote or in-person, needed to address the following educational priorities shared by our families:

● A plan for supporting the social and emotional well-being of students (including through connection, play, socialization, and relationship-building)

● A variety of supports for families balancing their work inside or outside of the home with remote learning for their student, whether an in-person aid, childcare, guidance to families, or remote tools

● A system for tracking work, following curriculum and monitoring learning outcomes so families can support remote learning schedules more easily

● As much synchronous instruction and direct engagement with teachers as possible

● An assurance that all learning needs and styles will be accommodated in any approach offered

● A commitment to addressing learning gaps resulting from last year's disruption

● A practice of regularly communicating with families about both the plans being developed and their role in supporting their student's education so they can plan and contribute

Two Rivers is committed to offering a robust remote option that reflects this feedback. We also know our students and families are "crew" with us in this difficult moment and want to ensure that our plan for reentry continues to align with the vision of our families through our next steps.

Next Steps for Families & Students

For many Two Rivers families, this approach aligns with the preference shared with us, while for others, starting the school year fully remote likely raises challenges. For all families, we know that you have questions and thoughts about how we will meet the priorities for remote learning that you have shared and carry out the Two Rivers mission and goal that we are all here for.

In the upcoming weeks, we will be planning a mix of Two Rivers network and school-level engagement opportunities for families and students to learn more and share their latest thinking about remote learning and reentry. To start the conversation, we hope you will join us for a Two Rivers Family Town Hall on Tuesday, July 21, from 5:00 pm-6:00 pm to share more information about our approach to reopening and for families to ask questions and share feedback. A Zoom link will be provided via email prior to the meeting. You can submit questions in advance at

Below are some additional communications and engagement opportunities you can expect from the Two Rivers team:

● You will receive a bi-weekly email update from me about the status of Two Rivers preparedness for both remote and in-person learning

● Your school principal will also be sharing bi-weekly live opportunities for you to engage specifically with your school team and community on next steps starting next week

● We will be providing opportunities to weigh in via brief polls and learn about the latest developments on social media (@tworiverspcs on Instagram and Twitter)

We are embarking on a historic year. Since Two Rivers' humble beginnings in 2004, our schools stressed the EL Education ethic, "We are crew, not passengers." We approach the 2020-21 school year knowing that it will be challenging. Yet, because of our community and our focus on real-world learning, we have an opportunity to shine together in new ways. We thank you for your patience and your trust as we all navigate this unprecedented moment.

If you have additional questions, please feel free to contact me at


Kristina Kyles-Smith, Ed.D Executive Director

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