World Academy has taken distance learning to a new level with the incorporation of nearly every onsite school program now being offered to families remotely. The school, located on Spit Brook Road in Nashua, serves families with children ranging from Infants through Eighth Grade. Upon hearing of the potential for school closures due to COVID-19 in February, the school's Administrative Leadership Team began planning for the school's well-rounded remote education model for if and when it needed to be executed.
"One of our biggest concerns in this global crisis was the impact that it would have on our students. When adults begin to panic, there is an upheaval of normalcy and security for children that will add stress to entire family units. Stressed children will cause more stress to parents, and it's no one's fault. No one knows the "right" way to handle this, but we felt a mandate to our families at all levels to protect not just the education they chose for their children, but the foundations for growth, development, safety, and routine needed to thrive in this time of uncertainty," explained the School President, Kathy Nelson. "We have a phenomenal team of educators that jumped at the opportunity to keep the connections with our families strong and the quality of work being sent home at the same level our students have grown accustomed to at school."
While the Early Childhood Education programs from Infants through Preschool Fours were still operational, the teachers of those classes were additionally developing a daily curriculum that was sent to families who chose to keep their children home. These cheerful daily letters included activities that were specifically chosen to follow the thematic units and skills used in the classrooms and aligned with the NH Early Learning Standards and 21st century skills that World Academy incorporates into all its curricula. "It's important for families of young children to feel supported during this time. We are an extension of their family, and we wanted to be there to continue to provide the consistency to daily routines for our students," said Early Childhood Director, Angela Hehir. "My teachers were able to include students via Google Meets for the daily circle, which is a huge benefit to even our youngest students when their normal routines have been disrupted. Our parents' feedback has been incredibly positive and appreciative." The Early Childhood Program has since closed its doors for the next three weeks, but the ECE teachers remain committed to continuing the daily contact with families and have set up additional one-on-one times available to families to connect.
The week before Nashua was required to go remote, World Academy's Kindergarten through Grade 8 went fully online, with both printed and digital resources made available for families for all the classes students would have received onsite. "We put equal value on our Enrichment classes during our normal operations, so it only made sense that we would continue that well-rounded, whole-child approach in our remote curriculum," said Principal, Marie Kirk. "Our families were sent digital folders that included work and Google Meet schedules for each day, for all their core classes - Mathematics, Language Arts, Science, and Social Studies; a weekly schedule for their Enrichment classes of Physical Education, Visual Arts, Music, and their World Language of Spanish or French; and a time to meet with our wonderful School Counselor to check in on their emotional health. We also rolled out a full Afterschool program for those teachers to connect with our large population of students that require after-hour care. It's been a seamless transition for students, and we are thrilled that we are able to use the technology available to keep these bonds strong and morale high."
While the school is eager to re-open its campus doors to the 450+ students who normally attend, the "new normal" that has evolved from this experience has brought their community closer together. "It's been surreal to see the impact that this pandemic has had on all of us. On a positive note, the cohesion of our staff, parents and students all coming together while being required to be apart, and growing exponentially, has changed all of us for the better." expressed Dr. Lisa Dias, World Academy's Head of School. "For years we have intentionally embraced having a "growth mindset" with our students and staff and encouraged all to look for opportunities in failure or adversity. It prepared all of us to not crumble under the pressure of uncertainty, but, indeed, to flourish in this time of crisis."
World Academy's Early Childhood programs are tentatively closed through April 20th while the Kindergarten through Grade 8 remote learning will continue until May 4th unless extended due to COVID-19. All are anxious to get back to their friends and the campus but in the meantime much learning and growth are still happening in the students' 'World!'