We Will Do Anything to Learn!
By: Catherine Alligood, Principal AH Bangert Elementary
The school year 2020-2021 has been like no other. All of Craven County Schools started out the year fully remote and transitioned to Plan B in October. Plan B involved all of kindergarten students being face-to-face four days a week. Students in grades 1st through 5th attended school face-to-face two days a week and two days a week accessed remote learning. As Bangert Elementary transitioned to Plan A on January18th, all students returned to the building together. No matter what plan the school is following, the staff continues to work very hard to engage their students and do whatever it takes to maintain learning with their students.
Staff, students, and parents have had to find new ways to tackle learning this school year. The Bangert staff is so appreciative of the parents who have sacrificed to keep their children learning. Many of the Bangert students have gone to work with their parents or their parents have made arrangements to work from home so that they can be there with their children. Zoom, Google Classroom, and SeeSaw have become common terms, and the Bangert families are great with accessing them to help the Bangert students. While the students in the upper grades of elementary school have not needed as much help, the students in the lower grades have required a lot from their families. The Bangert teachers are amazed, not only, at the support that the families have shown with helping their children learn, but also with the support that has been shown to the staff at the school. The Bangert families and community have taken on delivering surprises to the school to be placed in the mailboxes of the staff, stocking the refrigerator with drinks for the staff, and providing boxed lunches for the staff. Their support has helped to breathe energy into the school.
For their part, the Bangert teachers have done whatever it takes to teach their students. Even though all of the students are in rows of desks and not their regular groups at tables, the Bangert teachers have made learning fun. The kindergarten desks have all been decorated to resemble cars. Each student has their own car! The Bangert media center is mobile right now. Kristy Williamson, the school media coordinator, travels to classes with carts of books and the students are checking them out and taking them home. When the books are returned, they are set aside until it is safe to put them back into circulation. The Bangert Connect Team consists of the Art, Music, and PE teachers. Instead of the classes traveling to the Connect classrooms, these teachers travel to the classes. Art, music, and PE are still alive and even thriving under these different circumstances. The teachers are figuring out ways to teach the students without sharing supplies, while maintaining social distancing, and everyone wearing a mask. Student artwork is decorating the hallways of the school and the playground blacktop has been redesigned and painted to promote activities and games that can be done while maintaining social distancing.
While learning is going on at Bangert Elementary, fun is still happening. This October, Bangert’s Fall Festival occurred as a drive-through. Each grade level and support staff group dressed up and decorated cars. The Bangert families rolled through in their cars, were photographed in their cars, and each child received a treat bag as they left. It was a great evening. In December the school observed Holiday Spirit Week and the students and staff dressed up and showed their best pajamas and holiday characters. Elves, Grinches, Frosty the Snowmen, Santas, Reindeer, and Gingerbread Men all graced the halls of Bangert in December.
The return to school in January has brought two weeks of remote learning. Once again, the Bangert teachers are doing whatever it takes to engage their students. To offer motivation for their students, teachers brainstormed ideas to help motivate student engagement, and came up with ideas such as Free Choice Friday, Build an Ice Cream Sundae, Reward Charts, Coupons, Taping the Teacher to the Wall, and Fun Friday. The hope being that these things will help to motivate students to be engaged with the learning. The goals have been set and classes are now working toward meeting them. Classes that have 100% participation in their schoolwork will even be throwing pies at the administrators when the students return to school. The Bangert staff realizes that remote learning can be challenging for students and families, and they want to make things as fun as possible while still promoting learning. It has been wonderful to have the students back in the building and while it may look different we aim to continue face-to-face instruction safely for our students.