Connection, engagement, and exploration remain focus of West Grand educators, students and families

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photo by Mike Wilson | West Grand's James Gregory, Darrin Peppard, and Cori Kassib deliver lunch and snacks to kids in the community. They are using regular bus routes to distribute food from the District and Mountain Family Center.
photo by Mike Wilson | West Grand's James Gregory, Darrin Peppard, and Cori Kassib deliver lunch and snacks to kids in the community. They are using regular bus routes to distribute food from the District and Mountain Family Center.

by Kim Cameron

Google chats, video chats and Google hang-outs are now the norm for the West Grand School district as teachers and staff develop new classroom strategies to continue their students’ education after Colorado schools were officially closed until April 17 and perhaps longer.

Teachers worked throughout their spring break to be able to launch their virtual classrooms earlier this week.

“Our focus right now is keeping our teachers and our kids connected,” says K-8 principal Jack Daly. “We are in a new world, and we are working the best we can to make sure our kids are continuing to grow.”

The District’s focus will be on basic skills of reading, writing and math, but will also include lessons in P.E. and the arts.

“We want to teach to the whole child,” notes Daly who outlines that the District hopes to familiarize its students and parents with the technology and different forums for learning over the next two weeks. It will also test the capabilities of the internet and school systems.

“We really want people to know we are working through the different thoughts and ideas with this and it will constantly be evolving as we find things that work well and things we have to work on,” emphasized Daly who is already grateful for the tremendous support and flexibility of parents.

Under this new structure, parents are not expected to provide the classroom lessons for their child, but they do have to provide access to the technology and the time for their children to connect to their teachers. The district is providing Chromebooks and internet hotspots for families that have requested them.

According to Dr. Darrin Peppard, West Grand Superintendent, the District currently has 425 students and the District was able to check out Chromebooks, laptops and iPads to their student body. The District also ordered hot spots.

Teachers will utilize group chats to meet with groups of students but will also be using video conferencing and phone calls to meet with students individually.

“Our teachers know the strengths of our students and how to teach them. We want to make sure to keep that personal connection,” says Daly.

Primary teachers created “Go Bags” for students with print-outs and things needed to complete assignments, and according to Daly, primary teachers will continue to create “Go Bags” for their students that can be picked up as needed. As expected, the older grades will be completing most of their assignments electronically.

Daly explains there is also an element of flexibility where classroom assignments can be completed when it is best for the family.

“We want students to be engaged and exploring,” said Daly who emphasized the District does not want students sitting in front of a screen all day.

Superintendent Peppard adds, “Teachers are providing a myriad of educational opportunities and resources. This is brand new to us, just like nearly everyone else in our country, so we know it will evolve over the next couple of weeks.”

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