Our first day of remote learning was filled with joy, nervousness, and curiosity. Although, we have been preparing to make this transition since March 13th, we were unsure of what to expect. However, our community of educators, administrators and parents came together in support of our students. Today, our Intergenerational community is stronger than ever!
Near West Teacher Featured on NPR The Sound of Ideas
On Monday, Jameson Lowery, Primary Stage teacher at Near West, was featured on NPR's The Sound of Ideas among educators who are doing fantastic work with remote learning. Mr. Lowery shared how he's been able use technology to remain connected with his students. He and the entire Near West staff were nominated by a Near West parent.
Reconnecting with Our Students
Although academic packets with supplies were distributed to every student at the start of the closure, and phone calls were made to every home, yesterday was the first official day of online learning. Much of the first day of remote learning was about reuniting with classmates and learning how to be together online.
In a message to families, Brooke King said:
"Please do not stress if your technology didn’t work right today, or if you had trouble accessing the video call on your phone or can’t find the lessons. We also understand that some students are with relatives or other child care while parents are working. This week the staff will work with you to help solve these types of problems. Our number one goal is to work through the bugs and get every student reconnected in some way-even by phone or email at first."
Early Decision Making Lead to a Successful First Day
We cannot say everything was perfect, but we were prepared. The Intergenerational School Corona Task Force spent much of March organizing and making plans for the imminent extended closure. By March 31st the Boards of Directors were able to approve a solid Distance Learning Plan, our schools had prepared their existing Chromebooks for home use, ordered additional Chromebooks, and sourced a local company to provide WiFi Hotspots for our families.
Going into our first week of school, our teachers worked hard to learn new technologies and knew how they were going to provide education to ALL of our 750 students. We had staff ready to connect with all of our students, especially reaching out to those who missed online meetings or assignments in the first days. By placing relationships at the center of our process, we have been able to retain all of our employees and build the infrastructure needed to support all of our families.
Although the purchasing of large quantities of technology was expensive, we saw this as a necessary investment in our students. Today, we can ensure that every family has access to a working device and internet. These additional devices are an investment in the current situation and will serve us well when we get back into the buildings. Every single one of us (staff, students, parents) is approaching each day as a lifelong learner, and is learning new technologies and skills through this unexpected experience.
Thank you to everyone who has reached out to offer support to our students. COVID-19 continues to cause economic hardships on our societies most vulnerable and underrepresented populations. As an urban public school, we have always been there to provide support and resources to our students and their families. During the school year, all of our students receive free lunch and breakfast. We also connect our families to crisis intervention and routine mental health services. When these immediate needs are not met, education suffers.
Please help us continue to be a strong, stable, and trusted resource for children and their families by making your gift today. You support is greatly needed and appreciated.