When the pandemic led us to close our campus back in March, right at the start of Spring Break, our incredible and dedicated guides worked at lightening speed to create distance-learning plans for each of our levels. I am not exaggerating when I write that the guides worked straight through Spring Break—around the clock—to convert their homes into distance learning studios. They prepared videos, materials, lesson plans and schedules to keep our student communities connected and learning.
At the time, the distance learning plans were meant to be very temporary, to hold us over for a couple of weeks until we would back on campus. Then those weeks turned into more weeks and then months—and we closed out our school year online. Being apart, away from campus, was not what any of us wanted but our guides, assistants, students and parents took on the challenge, dedicated to keeping our children learning and our community strong, and jumped whole-heartedly into daily online class meetings, lessons, book club gatherings, social hours, sing-alongs and read-alouds. The last months of school were a whirlwind, but we did it and we did it well!
And it’s a good thing we did because we are here, a few weeks into the 2020-2021 school year, and the pandemic is still going strong. Thanks to the hard work our people put in last spring—not to mention the planning, preparing, discussing and tweaking put in by our elementary guides over the summer—we were able to start this school year with a distance-learning option for our elementary students.
As we showed you last week, we were lucky (and resourceful!) enough to be able to reopen our campus for all of our Children’s House families and any of our Elementary families who chose to return in-person. Around 20% of our Elementary families were more comfortable starting the year in the distance learning program, and we are very proud that we have been able to serve them along with their on-campus peers.
This year’s elementary program is led by Guide Rebecca Callander, who is online with Lower and Upper Elementary students every day. Distance learning students follow daily and weekly schedules of class meetings, lessons, smaller group meetings and conferences.
Our elementary distance learners are engaged daily in their online classroom with Ms. Rebecca and their community of online peers. But that’s not all! Distance learners also spend time with Ms. Carrie and Ms. Hannah, of the administrative team, for additional academic and social support throughout the week. Upper Elementary book club groups gather over Zoom on Fridays to discuss their books-of-the-month. And distance learners and on-campus learners are kept connected through our on-campus guides and assistants with cross-over group lessons and activities.
Last, but absolutely not least, our parents strengthen our distance learning program by encouraging and supporting their children to participate, stay motivated and engage in projects on- and offline. We know this is not always easy, but our parents are doing it! We are all in it together and we are making it happen.
One day we will all be on campus again. But until then, we are pretty happy and pretty proud to have a community of guides, assistants, admin staff and parents who are keeping us—all of us—together.
Many thanks to Rebecca Callander, Winston Liddy, Sophie Andre and Laura Wheeler for the photos.