Hero Educators Abound
by JFYNet’s Blended Learning Specialists: Eileen Wedegartner, Greg Cunningham and Cathie Maglio
In a COVID-19 update April 2 Governor Baker apologized for not being able to name a specific date when something had happened. “I feel like March 6 to today has been one long day,” he mused. “I can’t keep track of it anymore.”
I knew what he meant. These last few weeks have been a whirlwind when life as we knew it drastically changed. Seemingly overnight, the streets in Boston fell silent and New York, the city that never sleeps, fell into a coma. Baker ordered all schools closed for three weeks and then extended it even longer, to May 4. District leaders, school administrators, teachers, parents and even students are mobilizing to try out learning in different ways. As I watch my own children navigate classroom meet-ups on Zoom and Google Hangouts, I am thankful for the efforts teachers are making to fill the void we in the community feel without school.
During this time, I have been able to connect virtually with the Higginson- Lewis K-8 School in Roxbury. I was supposed to be in the school the week of March 16 introducing teachers to our online program that would prepare students for the upcoming MCAS exams, when the ground suddenly shifted beneath our feet. Since then, teachers and school and district leadership have worked hard to engage students remotely. While everyone hopes to be back in the classroom May 4, I am deeply impressed with the efforts to ensure that students do not lose ground. From learning to navigate online meetings to crafting appropriate enrichment and practice materials that students can use either online or off, it is amazing to watch the teachers I work with help students navigate these new challenges in a world turned on its head. I sat in a virtual meeting recently with teachers who shared their techniques for implementing programs to help students keep up with their work. While our extraordinary doctors and nurses turn their hospitals into battle stations to defend against the viral onslaught, our educators are doing heroic work to ensure that students can be resilient and continue to thrive in the face of adversity. Their efforts during this shutdown will pay dividends when school comes back into session and students have to re-confront accountability.
EILEEN WEDEGARTNER, available TUESDAYS, 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM. Click here to email Eileen.
Madison Park: During the first two weeks of the shutdown, about half of the students previously registered with JFY logged into our software from home. Many teachers are continuing to use our math software to reinforce skills as well as bolstering reading skills with our ELA program.
We were proud to learn that Madison Park made a donation to Boston Medical Center to help protect medical staff on the front lines fighting the virus. Over 5,000 pairs of gloves, 1,000 gowns, 200 masks and 200 foot covers, which the school had intended to use for its training programs in health technology, medical assisting, dental assisting and cosmetology, were donated to BMC to replenish the hospital’s diminishing supplies.
Dearborn STEM Academy: Math teachers at Dearborn have opted to use JFY’s math software to reduce gaps in student learning. Students will focus on skills in which they have demonstrated low competency in order to strengthen their math abilities. More than 100 students registered for the first time with JFY during the truncated first two weeks of the shutdown. We anticipate many more, as teachers plan to work with JFY for the duration.
BMC Durfee (Fall River): Students in the Bridgewater State University dual enrollment courses continue to work and receive instruction supported by JFY during the school shutdown. In early March, BSU switched to remote learning for all courses and has provided instructors with resources to maintain continuity of instruction. JFY’s Blended Learning Specialists have assisted Durfee students in gaining access to coursework and keeping pace while using these resources. Understanding that many students have limited or no access to technology at home, instructors have been flexible with due dates for assignments in order to ensure maximum participation and credit.
GREG CUNNINGHAM, available THURSDAYS, 1:30 PM – 3:30 PM. Click here to email Greg.
It is not easy for teachers or students to shift from traditional face to face education to remote. I applaud all the teachers I work with at East Boston High, Burke High, Revere High and Northeast Metropolitan Regional Vocational for adapting so quickly to this new way of teaching and learning. I also commend teachers I have worked with in the past at other schools who are now at New Mission High and Hennigan K – 8 for reaching out to re-connect with JFY for online curriculum and teacher support as they transition to remote. I also cheer for students at all these schools who are making the adjustment to this different style of learning.
Teachers are now using online communication tools to teach and stay in touch with their students, and the students are responding.
I also want to laud Northeast Metropolitan Regional Vocational High School for donating face masks and other medical supplies from their training resources to Melrose Wakefield Healthcare.
CATHIE MAGLIO, available WEDNESDAYS, 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM. Click here to email Cathie.