Ozark Adventist School
GENTRY, ARK. – My husband and I both work in housing and construction related fields and we are fortunate to still be able to do most of our work from home. The biggest impact coronavirus Covid-19 has had on our family is not being able to take our kids to school. We have four children, three boys and a girl: Zac is a 10-year-old third grader, Jed is a seven-year-old first grader, Nic is a five-year-old kindergartener and Raygann is our three-year old. We live about eight minutes from Ozark Adventist School in Gentry, Ark., and we’re very happy to have the opportunity to raise our kids in the Adventist educational school system.
When the state of Arkansas decided to shut the schools down, I was hoping that would mean we would be out for the summer rather than finishing the year through distance learning. I have never had the desire to try homeschooling my kids. I have several friends who use that method of education; they are fantastic people with a whole other level of patience, creativity and organization than what I have been gifted. Homeroom mom, yes, but not a homeschool mom! Fundraiser, hot lunch prep? I’m there! Drive for a field trip? You bet! Take charge of my kids’ education from home? Not so much!
Luckily for me, my kids have the best teachers on the planet. They have stepped up to this challenge with dedication, passion and resilience. My kids have followed their lead. I feel like we’ve barely missed a beat when it comes to the education they’re receiving. Don’t get me wrong, it’s been extremely difficult. It’s hard to adjust to the whole family being home all the time together, not being able to go to the playground or library. We’ve all had to learn a lot of new things, like how to use Zoom, a program for online video conferencing, and other electronic and online formats.
Zac has Zoom meetings at 9 a.m. for Bible and worship and at 11 a.m. for math. His teacher has recorded videos that are available on YouTube for his social studies—and all his other assignments are available online. He can look them all up himself using his school Chromebook. Jed has Zoom at 10:30 a.m. for Bible and 11:30 a.m. for Reading. His teacher sent home a beautifully organized binder with his weekly assignments and an iPad loaded with apps that help support his math and other skills. Nic also has a binder with his worksheets for the week that makes it so easy for us to keep track. His teacher does a Facebook Live meeting at 10 a.m. Monday through Friday for show-and-tell and Sabbath Celebration with Nic’s teacher and classmates.
Once per week the school produces a special video which is posted on YouTube to air on Wednesday for chapel time. Different families have sent videos from their homes for prayer, the Pledge of Allegiance, song service time, announcements and different speakers for the worship thought, all pieced together to make a smooth and enjoyable worship experience for the kids that helps them feel connected to each other and the school while they’re apart.
Despite the frustration and general chaos of these past few weeks, I think we will look back on this experience very warmly and enjoy precious memories of this time spent together. In the meantime, I have a whole new appreciation for my kids’ teachers, staff and the school building itself. Come Aug. 17, my kids will be there and ready to walk into school as soon as the doors open!
By Lora Weygandt