When Arizona schools closed for the remainder of the school year due to coronavirus precautions, the teachers and staff at Arizona Charter Academy, 16025 N. Dysart Road, Surprise, immediately prepared students for online learning.
From loaning out necessary technology to students in need and sending home the students school workbooks and readers, the ACA online learning program is up and running. In a school news release from April 9, administrator Heather Henderson noted that 947 of the school’s 953 students, or 99.37 percent, have picked up their instructional materials, and that during the first week of online instruction, K-8 teachers hosted more than 160 hours of instruction through Zoom.
“Our staff is doing an amazing job and is working incredibly hard to be sure our students continue to have learning opportunities, even though our campus is closed for the remainder of the school year,” Ms. Henderson stated, adding that students are also able to take part in optional “specials” classes like music, fitness, art and crafts.
“During our first live art special, we had over 35 kindergarteners in a live Zoom taking part and interacting. Our art teacher offered a live, step-by-step art lesson for the students, who were very excited to participate in an art project with their teacher. It was so well planned, very well executed and the kids had a blast.”
In addition to the online learning opportunities, on a daily basis ACA has provided 200 “grab and go” meals for not only its own students but for children ages 1-18 in the entire surrounding community. In the first week and half alone the school has served 1,800 “grab and go” breakfasts and lunches.
As Ms. Henderson noted, ACA’s distance learning program is doing more than helping to keep students on-track academically. It is also allowing students to see and interact with teachers and classmates, which is important for social and emotional well-being.
“Most grade levels are hosting Zoom recess time for the students so they can see and interact with their classmates,” she said. “We also have staff calling and checking in on students periodically, especially if they don’t show up for a live lesson. Our school therapist is hosting Zoom sessions and is available for our students as well.”
ACA’s administration and staff took part in over 100 hours of grade level and content area meetings to prepare for this new approach to learning, in addition to many discussions to prepare for the online instruction.
The full schedule of instruction for ACA’s middle schoolers will be launched this week, with more Zoom lessons being offered, as well as a Fitness Challenge.
“I am so proud of the way everyone at Arizona Charter Academy has responded during these challenging times,” Ms. Henderson stated. “From our staff who has set up online lessons through Zoom to our specials teachers finding ways to provide some fun instruction during the day, to our students who are continuing to work hard and be active learners, I know we will emerge from this current situation stronger than ever.”