Friday, September 18, 2020
Students at MPS Clement Avenue School went back to class on September 1, 2020, and less than three weeks into the year, students and staff are settling into learning and finding a rhythm. Principal Shannon Kilsdonk shared her pride in her students, staff, and the school’s ability to adapt and thrive in a virtual world. “I’m grateful to MPS for offering extensive professional development for teachers and staff, and I’m very proud of the way that all our educators have committed to making this work,” she said. “Students are picking up on the dedication and expectations of their teachers, and we’ve seen a positive ripple effect that’s motivating everyone.”
Jason Kulinski teaches fifth-grade math. With 27 students in his class, the first few days of online school required some problem solving as children learned to navigate the virtual classroom. Now, he reports, students are more engaged and are getting on track. “Once we learned how to use the virtual platforms, the real learning could begin. We’re focusing on math and trying to keep up with a regular school year,” he said.
Even physical education has gone virtual. Brianne Marcum, physical education teacher, is discovering new ways to keep students engaged while teaching important skills like teamwork and socialization. “Students need to interact with each other, and that’s been a challenge,” she said. “But I’ve also found ways to personalize learning for my students, whether they want to practice basketball or train to run a mile.”
Although students are learning from home, the school is nearing completion on an outdoor classroom that will be ready when the district eventually reopens. The space will be used for a variety of purposes including science classes and environmental studies. The project has been in the works for several months, and staff look forward to using the new space eventually.
“I think we were all nervous about what the school year would look like,” said Kilsdonk. “But I think we’ve pushed learning to a new level, and we will be ahead of the curve.”