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Principal Carmen Buchanan, at front, and assistant principals Demetria Patterson and Karl Fernandez helped with scrubbing and disinfecting building surfaces at Mill Creek Elementary School during the pandemic shutdown. CONTRIBUTED

Teachers engage Mill Creek students for everyday needs, at-home learning

MADISON – Satisfying students’ basic needs has been paramount to teachers and staff at Mill Creek Elementary School during closure for COVID-19.

That effort “is easier to do when they’re with us each day. That was our priority before academics when we knew they wouldn’t be with us for some time. This was so sudden. Once we meet basic needs, we can meet students’ academic needs,” Mill Creek Principal Carmen Buchanan said.

Buchanan can compare the current scenario only to the week after 2011’s tornado outbreak. “However, educators are very accustomed to making split-minute decisions each day. I’m extremely proud of how quickly our teachers and staff got ready for this closure.”

“Teachers came together to help each other with technology and resources to stay connected and educate our students,” she said. The faculty even recorded a video for best wishes to students.

Before the closure, teachers and staff volunteered to collect donated snacks for students. Mill Creek’s administrators, teachers and staff delivered this food to students’ homes. Later, employees distributed lunches on campus, while administrators and teachers delivered lunches to families without transportation.

“We’ve issued academic challenges to our students each day,” Buchanan said. “Students shared their pictures about how they accomplished the challenge on Facebook.”

The challenges included “St. Patrick’s Day Learning” with a delivered pizza for the winning student, “Whatcha Reading Wednesday,” “Spring Cleaning Challenge” on the first day of spring with two stories and “Fitness Friday” for students to share how they were active for 30 minutes.

Administrators have read to students via Facebook Live. “Our teachers are staying connected via Google Classroom and See Saw. Teachers are reading to their students and having class meetings. It’s really heart-touching,” Buchanan said.

Buchanan asked ‘specialty’ teachers to issue a brief lesson and activity with Facebook Live:

* Music Monday — Music session with Traci Stewart.
* Taco Tuesday — Spanish lesson with Senora Bethany Powell.
* Color Wheel Wednesday — Art assignment with Rachel Baeder.
* Thankful Thursday — Counseling lesson with Ashley Claborn and Brewer Mitchell.
* Reading Bingo Friday – Book reading and bingo with Kris Gray.

Buchanan and Mill Creek teachers have received positive feedback from approving parents for staying connected during this unprecedented event. “Teachers have provided meaningful learning activities to keep students growing academically,” Buchanan said. “Parents have also been very appreciative of extra snacks and delivering lunches to them.”

“Since we’re in a ‘state of emergency,’ online learning activities aren’t required. However, our teachers are providing activities that students enjoy doing,” Buchanan said.

If parents are concerned, they can email teachers, who are checking messages daily. Parents also can log in to their child’s learning platform, like Google Classroom or See Saw, to see teachers’ messages and activities.

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