Like most schools across the state, COVID-19 caused Arizona Charter Academy, 16025 N. Dysart Road, to quickly change the way it educates its students.
In-person classes became online classes via Zoom, and while overall the staff and students have done well with the current way of learning, many ACA families and staff are definitely struggling at times.
In an effort to help support students, parents and staff as much as possible, Arizona Charter Academy recently launched a series of online health and wellness seminars called Virtual Lunch and Learn, led by the school’s counselor, Michelle Sturgill.
“We all know the state of our global pandemic has taken a toll on mental health as a whole and we are well aware that our ACA families are facing these issues every day,” Ms. Sturgill said, adding that the first seminar, which was conducted via Zoom, was designed to teach parents how they can help their children to cope and thrive in the new COVID-19 environment.
“The main focus of the seminar revolved around parent self-care. We discussed pandemic fatigue and signs parents should look out for in themselves and their children. We also discussed managing conflict within the home and building ways to connect as a family.”
Ms. Sturgill said the seminars last between 30 and 45 minutes and start at noon; the hope being that parents who work outside of the home may be ablet to join in on their lunchbreaks.
To get ideas for future Virtual Lunch and Learns, Ms. Sturgill said ACA’s staff will check in weekly with families for topics that are especially real and relevant.
Based on the overwhelmingly positive feedback she received about the Virtual Lunch and Learn, Ms. Sturgill said she and the other staff at ACA have realized how important it is to continue to offer these seminars, especially as they continue to navigate the pandemic.
“We have to find new ways to reach out to our families to provide support and meet them where they are. Parents want someone to hear their concerns and provide them with a safe space to talk about their own social-emotional health,” she said.
“Another important aspect of parent seminars are the opportunity for peer-to-peer interaction. Parents have the opportunity to share with us and each other parenting advice and ideas. It’s a great way to build community support.”