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Thinking back to early March many may have not expected to be in the situation we are in right now. Watching the news and hearing about a devastating virus that was killing thousands seemed so far away. Students prayed for those impacted in countries such as China and Italy and early conversations started among students who wondering the consequences of such a thing here in the United States.

Three weeks ago the wonder of it all become a reality as the decision was made for us to close school. Fast preparations were made among administrators that would allow us to continue our excellent education from our living rooms and home offices.  It was a whirlwind. Teachers quickly overwhelmed, students worried, and parents started asking questions.  Would this work?  Absolutely! We have stood firm in our core values over the past few weeks as we jumped right into remote learning. It’s been a steep learning curve, for sure, but here are comments made by the Wyckoff Campus staff about how they have seen our core values come into play through a remote environment.

Naomi Braunius, TESS teacher

Praying with our students is one of those unique opportunities we have as Christian educators to be still and listen for God’s voice through the noise. Often in “real” school, students volunteer to pray to begin our day, start our classes, before lunch, during chapel and small groups, and to end our days. Now that we gather as individuals, although still collectively, that routine has not changed, and in fact, we have been spending more time in prayer with our students. What has amazed me is that the awkwardness of praying behind a computer screen, in a “room” full of heads, has not stopped student voices from lifting up their peers, our country, our world, and our unspoken requests to the Lord. It is a beautiful form of worship that exhibits the desire to seek truth and embrace community during a time when brokenness and separation seem to want to overtake us. The truth of our hope in Christ is evident in these daily “digital” prayers being lifted high by our middle school students.

Snehal Mackwan, 7th grade Science

Even though remote learning is new to everyone and we are all learning together one way or another, we are all becoming independent learners which is a great accomplishment. In addition, it has been very encouraging to see students helping each other, working together, stay alert and curious, submitting their work online with excellence, which shows how we continue to develop responsibility and strive for excellence.

Donna Hoogerhyde, 4th Grade

My students have continued to strive for excellence in our remote learning classroom. They show up to our Google Meets and are prepared for class. They are also participating in our class discussions and handing in assignments on time to Google Classroom. I am so proud of their efforts!

Shelley Steen, ESL

In September a group of students traveled to a different side of the world and quickly formed a community with strangers that were other international students at ECMS and they become friends within days. In these past two weeks of virtual learning, these students have added on to that sense of community. They are now serving as well, when consistently offering help to each other with this new platform of learning. It seems that one core value cultivates another.

 

Cathy Clark, Orchestra

In Orchestra, I have seen great leadership from students whom I would have never expected it. Daily devotions are led by volunteers and some are so personal/mature that it is overwhelming. I am also impressed by the leadership shown by students who are helping others through technical issues while we are meeting. I am asking students to record and attach to Google Classroom, and the collaboration amongst each other is beautiful to watch! There is increased respect for those who have questions and an overall level of patience for each other has developed. Through all of this, I am watching these middle school students grow and mature! And they have developed responsibility as they show up early to class, often before I even get there at 8:15 am!

Adam Culp, PE/Health

Students are striving for excellence by logging regular workouts, and setting goals for the mastery of new athletic/movement skills. While some students are in their driveways honing their shooting form, others are doing flips on their trampolines. Some students have chosen to advance their martial arts achievement, while still others are fine-tuning their ballet and other forms of dance.

Carol Byma, 4th Grade

4B students continue to strive for excellence as they transitioned from classroom learning to remote learning! Students work to focus their attention on our group meetings together and keep up with the concepts we are covering. They also embrace community as they help each other with technology and are determined to make sure everyone participates in our work as a class.  Respect for each other is evident as they work to have each student’s voice heard without distractions or interruptions. They also continue to develop responsibility by learning and practicing good Netiquette for themselves, and reminding their classmates about it as well.

 

Terry Allen, 7th and 8th Grade History

In the coming years I will remember that in a 24 hour time period, I was banned from my classroom and all sources of public internet services while at the same time preparing for online instruction for my students. The learning curve was steep, but are embracing a new kind of community, and as well, developing responsibility for a new level of self-involvement in our learning.  We can’t lose faith and we are determined to keep enjoying the Far Frontier of Learning. As Lincoln said during the Civil War, “As our times are new, we must think anew, and thus we will save our nation.” That is what we are called to, and we can!

Joyce Breur, 7th and 8th Grade Reading

After one of our Google Meets this week, a 7th grade student exhibited compassion, by staying on the Meet to speak to me. She said, “Mrs. Breur, it is a lot more work for all of you teachers now that we are learning online!” She ended our conversation saying, “Well, I want to thank all of you teachers for all of your extra work because we still enjoy coming to class!”

Daniel Lazor, Principal

The switch to online learning began as a challenge, but as the reality of the situation settled in, it became the new normal for our faculty. I have been incredibly impressed with the professionalism and dedication our teachers have shown as they adapted to this new model of learning. In addition to delivering instruction, they are learning new technologies and having to rethink how they teach and assess–NO SMALL FEAT! This shows their commitment to striving for excellence and to serving others in the calling God has on their lives!

The teachers and staff of Eastern Christian Wyckoff Campus pray that this coming Spring Break is a chance of rest and renewal for your families. We thank God for His faithfulness to our community in these hard weeks and look forward to the day when we can join each other again!

 

Liesl Botbyl

By: Liesl Botbyl

Liesl Botbyl is the 4th-8th Grade STEAM Teacher and 8th Grade Science Teacher on EC's Wyckoff Campus.

Read More Articles by Liesl Botbyl
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