Birchwood 2020-21

Birchwood School of Hawken opened the 2020-21 school year with in-person instruction and a remote learning option for families who need or prefer this choice. Birchwood School is prepared to return to all remote learning if this becomes necessary. Our utmost concern is the safety and wellness of our community during this challenging time.

We are committed to equipping all children enrolled at Birchwood School to lead a life of
becoming – growing, thriving and flourishing – through the development of intellect and character. 

On this page you will find messages delivered by our head of school, Mr. Debelak, and our director of curriculum, Mrs. Debelak, as we transitioned to remote learning last spring, examples of student virtual planners, ways our community has remained connected, information on scheduling a virtual tour, and a link to communications regarding health and safety for the 2020-21 school year and our commitment to providing outstanding academics and character development during this time.

Virtual Planners

During remote learning students work from virtual planners that are updated each week and sent to both the students and parents. The hope is that students utilize the time from 9 am to noon on their assignments each day for the sake of joint activities. The amount of time spent varies by grade level and student’s needs or interests. Flexibility and understanding are emphasized, knowing that each family’s circumstances are different and times may vary depending on each family. We invite you to click below to see examples of the weekly communication shared with parents and students:

Google Classroom and Remote Classes

While remote, student assignments are uploaded by subject specialists in Google Classroom each morning. There, students see what assignments they will be working on that day in reading, math, science, language arts, social studies, art, or Creative Problem Solving. They also receive notifications regarding remote classes/meetings for the day as well as any links from teachers regarding assignments, instructional videos, messages of encouragement, and feedback regarding past work. 

An initiative unique to Birchwood last spring was a cross-disciplinary program, with students in grades 5-8, called the My Pandemic Curation Project. Social studies teacher, Mr. Joe Parrino, kicked off the project by discussing the power of a primary source in this video to his students.

Connecting With Our Families

Each week during remote learning, Birchwoods Head of School Mr. Debelak connected with students and families through videos that inspired by applauding the wonderful work students were doing, discussing with parents the silver lining of cultivating self-agency, and explaining the mechanics of new programming as Birchwoods remote learning evolved to best serve our students and families.

Read Aloud

Preschool through eighth grade students enjoyed the benefits of storytelling via video and live storytelling times using Zoom. During remote learning, Birchwood students continued on their journey to become avid readers by enjoying and celebrating good literature during at-home readling times and as they heard the language of good stories and the style of great authors as teachers read aloud some of the best in children’s literature. Classics and award-winning literature, from times past and today, foster a love of reading and respect for literature’s place in life and development.

7th & 8th Grade Leadership Team

Members of Birchwood’s seventh and eighth grade Leadership Team worked with their Birchwood advisors to come up with creative ways to communicate a variety of themes to our community via video messages. Working together, students and staff created and shared Birchwood’s quote of the week from our “finish strong” fourth quarter character campaign, a fun ditty from a popular nursery rhyme as part of the Community Engagement theme of “spring cleaning,” and weekly special birthday celebration messages.

Celebration of Community

The Birchwood community has always thrived because of the close partnership between the school, parents, and students. During this unique time, the comradery and celebration of community has blossomed on our Facebook page. Here our students and families  celebrate our learning, our teachers and alumni, and the achievements of our students.

Schedule a Remote Tour

Our Admissions Office is open remotely. We invite you to connect with Birchwoods Director of Admissions Linda Miyares to learn more about Birchwood School of Hawken, ask questions, and begin the admissions process. You can email Linda at

Communication Builds Community

Birchwood’s head of school, Mr. Debelak, shares videos with our community so that Birchwood families have the most up-to-date information for this school year. Please click here to watch his videos.
These days of uncertainty make us reflect on who and what truly matters. We have become even more aware of how much we appreciate our school and its people. Our hearts are filled with gratitude for all the work and effort you put in to keep the learning and community life going. 
Birchwood Parent