Conway Christian educators have put their efforts into overdrive to ensure the school’s students continue learning and do not feel forgotten while on quarantine.
The school began posting senior spotlights via social media on Monday and will continue showcasing its seniors every day until all 34 have been featured, Conway Christian President and CEO Jason Carson said.
Since the campus was closed amid COVID-19 concerns, the school’s president said Conway Christian educators have worked diligently to bring their classrooms to each student working on AMI (alterative methods of instruction) packets from home.
“We don’t prepare [our AMI assignments] at the beginning of the school year, we prepare as needed,” Carson said while adding the school began preparing additional assignments during spring break.
Though schools were initially scheduled to reopen after spring break, Conway Christian administrators felt it was better to begin preparing for a longer shut down.
“We had a week up our sleeve. When we shut down before spring break, we got prepared,” Carson told the Log Cabin Democrat. “We started planning for an extended break and knew we wanted to emphasize personal touch and allow our students to see their teachers’ faces [by] utilizing online platforms.”
Having this socialization and continued curriculum has made all the difference in providing a smooth transition to learning from home, parent Jessica Havard said.
“I can’t stress how impressed I am,” Havard said of the school’s AMI assignments and the dedications her son’s teachers have to ensuring he’s learning new content.
When the news broke that schools would shutdown, Havard admitted she felt anxious and concerned about her fourth-grader’s education. However, she has since witnessed her son’s educators step up to ensure he does not fall behind during the global pandemic.
“I do truly appreciate the school. We’re learning new content. Right now, he’s watching a video on language,” she said Wednesday afternoon. “His teacher has filmed herself and is making herself super available to us. This week, we have a new spelling list and a new chapter in history – he’s learning about the two world wars.”
Keeping students engaged in their studies and with faculty during the chaotic coronavirus outbreak will keep them focused on their future, Jenna Warren, a science instructor at Conway Christian, said. Not only will it keep them focused, but she said that it also reminds the students their educators are thinking about them.
“As the school year draws to an end, I think it’s important to keep in close contact with students not only to help them reach their academic goals and prepare for future classes, but to show them that I care,” she said. “As my students and I share videos or spend time in Zoom meetings for class, I can here that they want more than a science lesson. Some share prayer requests with me and open up about their fears and anxiety. I totally understand those concerns because I have my own.”
Communicating on a regular basis and being able to speak face-to-face allows students and educators to support each other.
While it’s not the same as seeing her students in person, Warren said she appreciates being able to have classroom meetings and discussions online.
“What we miss while being in isolation is the human factor. If we as teachers can bridge that gap in some other creative way, we keep that bond which only exists between the teacher and student,” she said. “We can reach our students in a way that they really need.
Carson is also using Zoom to visit with younger students and encourage community by allowing the children to visit.
The school president syncs in with the lower school students on Thursdays so that they can see each other.
“I also read them a book and just ask them how everything is going,” he said. “[Then, I] pray for them and tell a few funny stories.”
The school’s goal is to keep students engaged and to make learning feel “as normal as possible,” he said.
“My belief is that kids look toward their teachers, coaches [and] the principal as people who provide safety and let them know everything is OK in the world,” Carson said. “When you have mom and dad, teachers, administrators and coaches coming together, they feel they can get through this.”
Being a small school, Carson said he believes Conway Christian can host a socially-distanced graduation in the parking lot in May. Though all the details have not yet been sorted out, the school president said he believes it will happen next month.
“We have plans for a parking lot graduation … some type of outdoor graduation,” he said. “That’s coming up on the horizon … we could do it with social distancing and it can be outside and give the seniors that experience. I don’t want them to feel they were being rushed out the door and didn’t get that senior experience.”