The Teachers and Staff are Committed to Offering their Students Plenty of Learning Opportunities During the Statewide School Closure
When Governor Doug Ducey and Superintendent Kathy Hoffman recently announced that schools throughout Arizona would be closed for the remainder of the school year due to the current situation with COVID-19, the teachers and staff at Arizona Charter Academy in Surprise knew they had to continue offering educational opportunities to their students.
Thanks to their hard work, combined with the support of the school’s families, an incredibly high percentage of students are now taking part in online learning.
From loaning out necessary technology to students in need and sending home the students school workbooks and readers, the ACA online learning program is up and running, and is already highly successful.
For instance, as Administrator Heather Henderson noted, 947 of the school’s 953 students, or 99.37 percent, have picked up their instructional materials, and during the first week of online instruction, the K-8 teachers hosted over 160 hours of instruction through Zoom.
“Our staff is doing an amazing job and is working incredibly hard to be sure our students continue to have learning opportunities, even though our campus is closed for the remainder of the school year,” Henderson said, adding that students are also able to take part in optional “specials” classes like music, fitness, art and crafts.
“During our first live art special, we had over 35 kindergarteners in a live Zoom taking part and interacting. Our art teacher offered a live, step-by-step art lesson for the students, who were very excited to participate in an art project with their teacher. It was so well planned, very well executed and the kids had a blast.”
In addition to the online learning opportunities, on a daily basis ACA has provided 200 “grab and go” meals for not only its own students, but for children ages 1-18 in the entire surrounding community. In the first week and half alone, 1,800 “grab and go” breakfasts and lunches have been served.
As Henderson noted, ACA’s distance learning program is doing more than helping to keep their students on-track academically. It is also allowing students to see and interact with their teachers and classmates, which is important for their social and emotional well-being.
“Most grade levels are hosting Zoom recess time for the students so they can see and interact with their classmates,” Henderson said.
“We also have staff calling and checking in on students periodically, especially if they don’t show up for a live lesson. Our school therapist is hosting zoom sessions and is available for our students as well.”
To get ready for this new approach to learning, Henderson said ACA’s administration and staff took part in over 100 hours of grade level and content area meetings, in addition to countless other discussions to prepare for the online instruction.
Henderson said everyone at ACA will continue to provide the best-possible online learning opportunities for their students during the school closure. For example, the full schedule of instruction for ACA’s middle schoolers will be launched this week, with even more Zoom lessons being offered, as well as a Fitness Challenge.
“I am so proud of the way everyone at Arizona Charter Academy has responded during these challenging times. From our staff who has set up online lessons through Zoom to our specials teachers finding ways to provide some fun instruction during the day, to our students who are continuing to work hard and be active learners, I know we will emerge from this current situation stronger than ever,” she said.