A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Erlanger-Elsmere’s e-newsletter is model example of what’s going on between teachers, students today

Staff report

Superintendent Kathy Burkhardt shared the recent Erlanger-Elsmere as an example of the great work going on in NKY schools, despite the stay-at-home guidance and Non-Traditional learning.

Teachers are embracing online instruction and engagement — and students are responding. Here’s some insight into what’s going on between teachers and students in this challenging environment:

Together… even when we are apart

The past few weeks have been unlike anything most of us have ever experienced.

Our lives are changing every day and it can be difficult to know what to do or what will happen next. We find ourselves living in a “new normal” – in our work, in our relationships, in our daily activity, and in the way we’re helping our children learn.

There are many emotions that surround the things we’re experiencing, but in our school district, there’s one that’s bubbling to the top. It’s pride. We’re so proud of our teachers for jumping in with both feet and finding valuable, meaningful ways to stay connected with our students. We’re proud of our parents for their flexibility and understanding, stepping up without hesitation to take an active role in their children’s daily learning. We’re incredibly proud of our students for their hard work, resilience, and never-ending smiles. The creativity we’ve witnessed, the outpouring of support we’ve seen, and the spirit of unity we’ve felt makes us so proud to be part of this remarkable community. We’re together, even though right now we are apart. 

Nutrition Department

The district’s Nutrition Department has stepped up to ensure no student goes hungry during this time away. Because many students are accustomed to having their breakfast, lunch, and dinner at school, that’s exactly what they continue to provide. “Grab and Go” meals are prepared for pickup at lunchtime each day and are available for any child in the community, ages 1-18. The school district provided more than 2,400 meals in the first week alone.

Our Family Resource and Youth Service Centers continue to find ways to provide families the support they need to get by, including making deliveries from the district’s food pantries to those in need.

The librarians

Our district’s librarians have been finding creative ways to keep students involved in the reading and creating opportunities they participate in while they’re at school.

A stellar example is Mrs. Ryan Elmore, librarian at Miles Elementary, who opened a Google classroom called “Library with Mrs. Elmore” In her “classroom,” she’s posted nearly 20 videos of Miles teachers and even the Mayor of Erlanger reading stories for children to enjoy. She has shared links to celebrities and famous authors reading books and other resources such as Lunch Doodles with beloved children’s author Mo Willems. She’s even posted books read in American Sign Language and challenged students to learn 10 ALS words and send her videos of them introducing themselves in ASL.

To help keep kids creating, she’s added her own read-aloud videos that include crafts related to the book. In addition, she’s posted spring-related STEM challenges, which students are encouraged to complete, then share a video of their completed work. Once they share a photo or video of their completed work, they’re entered into a weekly raffle for free new books.

Special Education

Special Education teachers Mr. Kristopher Berry and Ms. Katie Hils have worked along with Ms. Jen Berry, the district’s occupational therapist, to support students with occupational therapy needs.

Together, this team has assembled additional content that supplements each student’s academic work and continues their specially-designed instruction. They’re also using Google Hangouts to meet with students virtually in an extra effort to ensure they have the academic support they need.

The arts

These are unusual times, but like our school communities, the arts community has done a formidable job of sharing resources and providing support with creative ideas. Not all students have a plethora of art supplies at home, so Ms. Dana Smith, art teacher at Howell and Arnett Elementary, has shared these resources with her students and encouraged them to be resourceful in working with the (sometimes non-traditional!) materials they have around their house.

And, she’s been impressed with their creations, which range from drawings on the inside of cereal boxes to collections of natural materials from outside and items pieced together to create a new image.

“Art can be such a useful tool during this departure from normalcy to help stave off boredom and to express their feeling about what is happening in the world around them. I feel lucky to be able to connect to my students through their NTI art assignments and the photographs they send me, where they are smiling, and proud of the work they have created.”

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And this is just a small part of what’s reported in the newsletter. See the full newsletter here.

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