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Dr. Georgina Nelson, Principal at Heritage Elementary School, holds a snack pack of food, like those that Nelson and Heritage teachers delivered to Heritage families. CONTRIBUTED

Nelson holds confidence in Heritage teachers’ reach to students

MADISON – A sense of community and family stands as a vital component of Heritage Elementary School. Principal Dr. Georgina Nelson plans to sustain that culture, even during unprecedented times of COVID-19.

“So much unknown right now is consuming everyone from all walks of life,” Nelson said. “While we have certainly had tragedies to overcome throughout the years, this is different, unexpected and unprecedented.”

Heritage’s faculty is connecting to the school community as much as possible, although the effort is challenging during social distancing. “The faculty and staff have found great ways to reach out to student families,” Nelson said. Teams have collected food for distribution, along with preparing and delivering lunches to students.

“Our administration and instructional technology personnel spent hours organizing and distributing wireless hotspots and devices,” Nelson said. “Teachers are working virtually with their students and reading stories to them, sharing fun learning opportunities and taking avenues to communicate to classmates.” Administrators have developed structures, such as virtual spirit week, virtual challenge/leadership week and mystery readers for nighttime live readings of bedtime stories.

All Heritage teachers have opened Google Classrooms for online learning opportunities, which currently are optional and mainly for fun. Teachers used Google Hangouts and Zoom to have virtual classroom conversations and shared reading.

“I’ve witnessed several online conversations, and they’re powerful. Students miss their teachers and classmates. They love school. These opportunities help them connect when they’re not permitted to be together,” Nelson said. Heritage students have expressed “extreme gratitude.”

Currently, Nelson’s major concern is satisfying basic needs – from food, shelter, clothes to online devices. “We’ve done a great job thus far in those areas,” she said.

Nelson suggests for parents to promote family learning experiences, read daily and practice a few math skills daily. “I promise our teachers will do the heavy lifting academically … just make certain the kids are safe and practicing reading and math skills,” Nelson said.

The extended closure does concern Nelson. “Missing 25 percent of the year is big but isn’t something we cannot overcome. Whatever happens these next few weeks, I feel confident that Madison City Schools’ administration and teachers will figure out a plan to make certain our kids excel,” she said.

“My own children attend my school. I have 100 percent confidence in our teachers to help them be the best students and leaders they can be,” Nelson said.

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