Goals from the Start of Parkmont Home School:
- Maintain relationships with Parkmont students and families – and continue the personal conversations that are part of Parkmont’s DNA despite the constraints of distancing.
- Ensure the continuity of accessible and differentiated instruction for all of our students for the remainder of the year.
- Educate our whole community about how to use existing technologies and online activities to make this moment a less isolating and distressful episode.
- Respect the fatigue everyone experiences being restricted to online interaction.
Parkmont Responds to COVID Quarantine
Parkmont started our online, Zoom-based Parkmont Home School (PHS) on Wednesday, March 18th. Our last day on campus was March 13th, and by the end of that day, every Parkmont student had become familiar with the Zoom software. Parkmont has been using Google Classroom for five years to organize assignments and workflow classes, and it proved a perfect platform for PHS. The staff took two days that first week to get prepped for our launch on the 18th, and we added progressively more elements to the PHS program as we discovered the opportunities and challenges (including screen fatigue) of online instruction. We even canceled our Spring Break in April, without objection from families, when we realized how helpful it was for students to be “in school” daily during the pandemic.
PHS Up and Running
Parkmont students are attending school at the same rates they were when we were on campus. Our weekly program appears below. They take three academic courses in the morning, running from 9:00 to 12:15 with breaks, similar to their regular Parkmont day. After lunch, they meet with their Advisor, have a short study hall, and then finish the day with engaging non-academic activities – art, games, or something more active (juggling, yoga, dance). Our students are all keeping a journal of their experiences, the Corona Chronicles, as part of their English class. In recent weeks we’ve divided the whole community into PE teams that focus on different exercise/activity routines in an effort to encourage everyone to engage in regular physical activity. This past week we’ve introduced Parkmont Movies, which feature a staff member hosting virtual movie-watching gatherings in the early evening several days a week.
We alternate three weeks of academic work with a Pause Week, when there are catch-up study halls for students that need them, enrichment classes for others, and fun activities for all. We have a number of individual Zoom sessions with students, and with students and parents, as needed during the week, and we keep careful records of the frequency of our contact with individual students. Daily reporting about connectivity issues that may impact students’ participation in the program and regular distribution of additional Chromebooks and/or hotspots ensure that everyone has the needed access.
This has been a profound learning experience for our staff (we jumped from three staff meetings a week to 10, albeit briefer ones, at the beginning and end of the day). In addition to important check-ins about individual students, these sessions have been a running webinar on Zoom use and online instruction techniques.
Parkmont Home School has been another example of Parkmont’s ability to use its small size, close relationships with students and families, and extensive experience (year 48) to respond quickly, creatively, and successfully to the biggest challenge to our education system in our memory.
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday
|9:15 - 10:00 a.m.||US Math, MS English|
|10:15 - 11:15 a.m.||Main Lesson|
|11:30 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.||US English, MS Math|
|12:30 - 1:00 p.m.||LUNCH (Ron’s office open to students)|
|1:00 - 1:45 p.m.||Advisory|
|2:00 - 3:00 p.m.||Advisory|
|9:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.||No Programming in the morning|
|1:00 - 1:45 p.m.||Advisory & Announcements|
|2:00 - 3:00 p.m.||PE Teams|
Checking In and Reflecting
Students see their Advisors for brief, and then longer, periods nine times a week, giving them opportunities for check-in and helping us keep an eye on their academic as well as personal circumstances (we have students with a wide range of socio-economic backgrounds and diverse learning and morale challenges).
A fixture of Parkmont’s program and mission is the internship experience, where our students learn about work by going to work with local businesses and non-profits. In a typical year, they spend 180 hours at their internships. Although the sites that partner with us to host our interns have closed, Parkmont students have been working to complete their reflections on those experiences and to share digital presentations of their typical internship days with the community via Zoom.
In our online configuration we have needed to address the therapeutic and emotional needs of our community as well as the academic ones. Advisors and staff created weekly challenges, surveys, and art re-creations that engaged teachers and students alike, boosted morale, and reminded everyone of the diversity and creativity in our community.
Feedback from Families
"Thank you for your encouragement… I’m amazed at Parkmont’s ability to change things up from week to week but maintain the same level of expectations from the students prior to the shutdown!"
"We appreciate the amazing communication and love the daily emails from Parkmont... So fun & emphasizes the community the school has created!"
"Thank you! And congratulations to all the teachers for handling this so well!"
"I want to say thank you! What you have done this year is awesome! You never missed a beat! Thank you for all you do for your students!"
For more information about our program, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For admissions inquiries, please contact Erin at email@example.com.
Send feedback and ideas about PHS to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tech questions and concerns to email@example.com.