Like many of the schools in the Oregon Conference Adventist education system, Portland Adventist Elementary School began the year via distance learning due to state requirements. PAES, located in Gresham, Oregon, has worked diligently and creatively to prepare a program that will engage students in all grade levels and accommodate parent needs as well.
One way the school is working to accommodate parent needs is by providing optional day care for students up to age 12. PAES has day care certified rooms and will be complying with the “Health and Safety Guidelines for Child Care and Early Education Operating in COVID-19.” Additionally, all the teachers at PAES will be day care certified so they can assist with child care. During day care the children will participate in distance learning and can receive academic assistance, if needed. This service will afford essential support to working parents.
At the start of this year, the teachers at PAES are meeting with families one on one to initiate a relationship and make sure the student is prepared with login information and an electronic device.
While the transitional kindergarten and kindergarten students can meet for in-person instruction, students in other grade levels started with remote learning. PAES educators in grades one through five have streamlined their program to make the day flow as smoothly as possible for families. For example, all the students will begin the day with worship then Bible class.
Second-grade teacher Nancy Stinson believes that, even though they provided “rich curriculum” during distance learning this spring, their program this school year will be even stronger. She explains, “We [teachers] really have a much clearer road map of where we’re going. We always knew what we were doing, but [now] we are just all on the same page. … We are trying to make it as easy on parents [as possible], as consistent as we can, and as easy as we can on the kids so it will still be fun, and they will want to learn, but it’s not overwhelming.”
Additionally, to ensure the program is simple to navigate, all teachers for grades one through five are using Seesaw, a virtual communication platform, to post lessons, distribute assignments, and give rapid feedback to students and parents.
PAES middle-school educators have also collaborated to provide a strong, cohesive learning experience for students. Jaryn Leung, a PAES sixth through eighth grade teacher, created Bitmoji Classrooms for all the junior high educators. Parents and students can virtually experience a classroom while they are accessing information such as the Bible verse of the day or navigating to their Google Classroom and other learning platforms. Through live and prerecorded lessons, junior high teachers will support their students' academic growth.
While academics are important, Leung states she is also “really trying to figure out creative ways to build that relationship with the kids” so that it will be even more engaging. To make sure the start of the new school year is fun, junior high teachers created “survival kits” filled with delicious goodies and sweet messages to give to their students.