For more information, or to schedule an interview, contact:
Marcia Spector, Executive Director - Seeds of Health, Inc.
Seeds of Health Schools planned early and rolled out fully functioning online schools March 16th
… and are prepared to adapt as schools find a new norm
MILWAUKEE (May 6, 2020) When Governor Evers issued an order closing public and private schools on March 16, the shutdown posed many logistical and situational challenges for the delivery of quality education. In some districts, the rollout for instruction was slow and uncertain.
This wasn’t the case for the 1300 children who attend Seeds of Health (SOH) Schools. That’s because the Seeds of Health Agency started to prepare for the crisis well ahead of time, as early as February. Thanks to insight and detailed planning on every level, SOH schools were ready to hit the ground running with virtual learning on March 16, as the administration had a comprehensive plan ready for action. The plan was designed to ensure that students would receive the necessary technology and internet connection to switch to an online learning platform. The results? Quality online instruction was delivered to students from the get-go, without missing a beat.
The SOH plan was so detailed that it answered almost every “what if” question that could interfere with a student’s ability to adapt to virtual learning. The question of device availability wasn’t a problem, as SOH schools boast a 1:1 ratio of devices to students in grades K4-12. If a child couldn’t pick up a SOH device up, a school team member delivered one to the student’s house. No internet? Again, not a problem. SOH thought outside the box and secured hotspots for families without Wi-Fi, and again delivered those hot spots as necessary. Not sure how to use the hotspots? Again, covered, as families were given handouts with detailed instructions on how to set up and use the hotspots.
The bottom line - SOH proactively addressed the potential needs of students, understanding that economic situations and hardships caused by COVID-19 job losses would play into a student’s ability to participate in online schooling. Next, the question came up regarding student accountability. How would teachers ensure that students used their devices to check in and complete daily assignments? Since home/school communication is one of the pillars of SOH schools, this was not an issue.
The plan requires students to sign into their devices daily. Teachers provide a daily agenda, assignments, and expectations. If students fail to sign in, they get a call - from both the teacher and the principal. Teachers give instruction in a variety of methods - videos, shared screens, audio files, and slide decks. Students who need assistance from teachers can opt for a chat or video call using Google Hangouts, and those students who receive special education services continue to receive their specially designed instruction as outlined by their individual education plans. Special education teachers provide their instruction in a variety of ways and connect often with their students. Communication between school and students is frequent, as is communication between principals and teachers.
This solid communication, from the top down, helps keep families at ease – from the phone and email communication to the detailed letters sent to all families, to the detailed information on the SOH website… students and families are well informed. Each aspect of how the crisis impacts students and their families is addressed and explained here. This translates into peace of mind for families and students. They can rest assured that in a world where everything is uncertain, the quality of their education is sure.
Above and beyond the delivery of instruction, SOH also takes care of the health and well-being of its families. Students can continue to receive daily breakfast and lunch, thanks to “Grab-and-Go” bags provided at SOH Elementary School or Tenor High School. Grandview High School and MC2 High School students can pick up their breakfast and lunch from MPS locations. But SOH takes it a step further and offers information on other trusted food sites for families to access if necessary.
Questions like grading are on the minds of many. To this, SOH teachers demonstrate compassion, flexibility, patience and understanding as they know students are following a different learning schedule than a traditional school day and will complete work at different rates. SOH teachers acknowledge the special circumstances we all are facing and have updated second semester grading policies accordingly.
Even in the midst of a pandemic, SOH appreciates the significance of graduation for SOH students and families. In order to properly acknowledge this milestone, SOH will offer a virtual graduation for each school’s graduating class in the form of a live FB watch party during each school’s graduation time. Students will have a link sent to them to keep the video after.
Finally, SOH understands how deeply students and their families are being impacted by the many aspects of the COVID-19 situation. SOH guidance counselors are working with students in grades K4-12 to help students cope with the extreme stressors brought on by COVID-19, and the impact it has on families. In addition, resources are offered on the SOH website to help families find information and solutions to problems they may be facing due to the situation.
Bearing in mind all aspects of these unprecedented times, SOH families and students know that their school is doing everything it can to help them get through. As this school year draws to a close and preparations begin for the new school year, again, SOH is working hard to develop new protocols that will adapt to the demands and new norms that all aspects of society must face. SOH has proven that it can and will adapt to whatever the new normal may bring.
About Seeds of Health, Inc.
Founded in 1983, Seeds of Health, Inc. is the only K4-12 charter school agency in the state of Wisconsin serving approximately 1,300 students in four high schools and a K4-8 elementary program. The five individual and unique education programs serve a broad range of student needs – from at-risk to the college bound. Seeds of Health is Milwaukee’s innovative “home grown” answer to imaginative, collaborative and cutting-edge education options, with the vision to positively impact the growth and development of urban children. For more information, please visit www.seedsofhealth.org.