As a reading specialist for Jefferson Middle School, Anna Osborn ’91 focuses on connectivity. She feels fortunate that her district provide a few days warning prior to the shutdown so that she was able to practice connecting to educational apps and email with her students.
This unexpected change to the educational system has given parents more responsibility and expanded opportunities to connect with their school districts. While parents offer support through private Facebook groups and parentteacher associations, administrators recommend families create schedules that work best for them.
Osborn, who earned her bachelor’s degree at Columbia College and a master’s degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia, urges families to follow their children’s needs. “If they say they cannot concentrate on a print book, consider another way for them to experience story or to learn material,” she says.
In the small rural school community of St. Elizabeth, Missouri, the school district has pivoted to distance learning. Without the equipment and technology necessary for all students to meet and learn online, teachers alternated weekly bus routes to distribute work packets to approximately 267 students across the district, as well as food to families in need. With a case load that extends the K-12 curriculum, Amber Ridenour ’06 & ’13 has served as a special education teacher at St. Elizabeth for three years. She reminded her students often that she missed them and wished them well. “I speak to my students throughout the week,” says Ridenour, who earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees in Education from Columbia College-Lake of the Ozarks. “I encouraged them to complete the work independently but to be sure to contact me if they need help.”