3 minute read

Life Lessons

Alumni educators transition to virtual learning

Anna Osborn ’91

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.

Amber Ridenour ’06 & ’13

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.”

Cassidy Urie ’17

Cassidy Urie ’17, a 6th grade math teacher in Columbia, Missouri, kept her students engaged in this new environment. She mailed handwritten notes of encouragement and was delighted to receive messages in return. Zoom meetings quickly became virtual classrooms, as her students logged in to see their peers, share stories and ask questions. Of course, many pets and siblings made appearances on these Zoom calls, which she says was an added treat.

“The hardest part for me personally was not seeing my kids again,” says Urie, who earned a Master of Education degree from Columbia College in 2017 and has taught in Columbia Public Schools for eight years. “I miss their laughs, their jokes and their silliness. I miss them asking the most random questions during my lesson and seeing the light bulb go off when they understand a concept.” When the school district announced its closure, Mike Johnson ’19 was asked to oversee food service to students in need. Breakfast and lunch was provided to the students and families for any day school would have normally been in session.

Mike Johnson ’19

When the school district announced its closure, Mike Johnson ’19 was asked to oversee food service to students in need. Breakfast and lunch was provided to the students and families for any day school would have normally been in session. Johnson is the assistant for Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment and director of Transportation for Southern Boone County R-1 Schools in Missouri.

“It’s been a great service our district has provided for our community, with great support from our school board, superintendent and entire staff,” says Johnson, who completed his Master of Education at Columbia College in 2019. By mid-April, the district was providing more than 3,000 meals to about 300 children per week. –CP