Teachers and Students Dive into District's Distance Learning Plan - 3/20/20

Teachers and students may not be able to share the same room for the time being, but they are making up for the distance by keeping structured routines in their days. Their diligence is helping the City School District of New Rochelle’s Distance Learning Plan, launched last Sunday, continue providing a high-quality education while schools are closed for the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.  

“I start my day as if it’s a regular school day,” said Dylan Brown, a seventh grader at Albert Leonard Middle School. He matches the time he spends on each subject with the actual time the class takes place when school is in session. Following that routine, he is keeping up with the work, even if he also allows himself a little flexibility.

“If I want to take a twenty-minute break, I can take that break,” he said.

Under the Distance Learning Plan, described on the District’s homepage, teachers use Google Classroom to provide students with assignments. The District is loaning Chromebooks to middle- and high-school students who need them. (To borrow a Chromebook, email Chromebook@nredlearn.org.)

Students are setting aside the time and the spaces to complete the work while parents enforce routines designed to approximate a regular school day.

“I am grateful for everyone who has been working so hard to make this plan work,” said Superintendent Dr. Laura Feijóo. “We have a strong plan that maintains our mission of providing a high-quality education to all of our 10,520 students. I want to thank the students for taking on the work willingly, their parents and guardians for ensuring that they stay on course, and the teachers for going above and beyond, as they always do, in their devotion to the students.”

In Michelle Peduto-Pappas’ household, the family has set up the kitchen table as the permanent workspace for her five children. They are; Guilianna, an ALMS eighth grader; Evangelina, in fourth grade at Trinity Elementary School; Nicholas and Giordana in second grade and Kindergarten at Henry Barnard Early Childhood Center; and 3-year-old Valentina, a “professional home schooler/distance learner,” Peduto-Pappas said.

They try to maintain a routine Monday through Friday.

“We have been trying to go to bed at the same time and wake up, get dressed, brush teeth, eat breakfast and then get started on our day,” she said.

Each sibling has a designated section of the table “and we try our best to mind our business in order to get work completed,” Peduto-Pappas said.

About 2:30 p.m., they try to get outside for fresh air and exercise before and after dinner.

Teachers, missing their students, are providing more than lessons. Melissa Tarpey, a first grade teacher at William B. Ward Elementary School said she has contacted students to wish a happy birthday, to encourage those who are struggling with being away from school, or just to check in.

She looks for lessons to keep things fun, such as assigning students to walk in nature (even if it’s their backyard) to search for scavenger hunt items – a bird, a flower, the sun and so on.

“We can’t wait to get back to normal soon,” she said.

“But we will do our best to be there for our students.”

Photo: The Peduto-Pappas family hitting the books - and computers - at home.