Sirviendo a todos los estudiantes en las escuelas autónomas LEARN

At LEARN Charter Schools, creating a safe and nurturing learning environment is of the utmost importance. It was not a new strategy: this is one of LEARN’s core values ​​that guides life and learning in LEARN schools.

LEARN teachers and staff are no strangers to taking care of each other and their students. But this past school year, with the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping across the country, this work took on a deeper meaning. LEARN 6 North Chicago | Great Lakes serves a unique student population, and a large portion of them come from military families. Tara Sheppard, a LEARN 6 social worker, described how her cohesive and collaborative team before the pandemic persevered to create an environment conducive to caring for students and others during this challenging time.

“An important way that we looked after our students was through our weekly check-ups,” says Tara. Each teacher had a group of eight to ten students to call each week. This was set up to have one-on-one time with each student to make sure they were okay and continue to build a relationship. ”This regular practice started what would become one of the strongest faculty-scholar relationships Tara had seen in her career. as a social worker.

In addition to those regular checks, LEARN 6 also maintained (and in many cases accelerated) the support programs that helped its academics before the pandemic. These included:

  • The Anchored4Life Program: This program, designed for military families, supports students who are in the midst of life transitions, whether they be moves, divorces or deaths in the family. During the pandemic, families experienced countless transitions, so Tara and the team brought kits containing stuffed animals, DVDs about their specific transition, and diaries. They made sure all students who were going through a difficult transition received a kit, often meeting with families outdoors, in the snow, and in socially distanced ways.
  • “Wolf Pack” Survival Kits: The team assembled drawstring backpacks containing books, hand sanitizer, headphones, anti-stress toys, coloring books, among other things, everything that would help the students while they worked remotely. In total, they created 200 “Wolf Packs” for academics.
  • Drive-Through Resource Fair in partnership with Boys & Girls Club of Lake County: At the fair, dozens of local organizations with resources available for families gathered in the LEARN 6 parking lot. Families can then drive to collect resources they need. need. This event was a success and will continue for the next school years.

At the end of this school year, the LEARN 6 community was able to return to school. They spent that time together learning and reconnecting with each other. “When we were able to see our students again, we were so happy,” says Tara. “You could see the children’s smiles on their faces, even with masks on! I am very grateful for the Herculean efforts of our team to coordinate a safe return. “

A special moment of joy was during the Month of the Military Child. LEARN 6 has many academics who are part of military families and Tara organizes classroom activities, assemblies, and a celebratory breakfast for all military families at the school. This event also includes military speakers, a local high school ROTC presentation, and a great breakfast.

However, this year has been different as it has been a challenge for the school community to meet in person. Tara teamed up with an organization called “Kids Rank” to participate in the “Move a Mile for Military Families” fun run. It was an exciting way for the kids to gather, walk or run outside and recognize their fellow soldiers. He settled on the walking path outside the schools. Beginning and ending with a large balloon arch, the classes went out and walked a mile together to celebrate their fellow soldiers.

This school year has been unlike one schools and families have ever seen. While it has been filled with new obstacles almost daily, the love and strength of the LEARN community has remained constant. That is something that will not change in the next school year.

As Tara put it: “Whenever life was difficult for me, I would try to ground myself and put life back into perspective. We are all humans. That was a challenging year and we were all together. The families I work with were also going through challenges. When I focused on supporting others, it helped me overcome my challenges. “