AME families prepare for distance learning

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AME third-grader Jackson Kennedy studies March 24 at home. Islander Photo: Courtesy Kari Kennedy
Paper bags wait for collection March 25 on the benches that normally are filled with students before and after classes in the drive-up at Anna Maria Elementary in Holmes Beach. Bags containing students’ assignments and supplies were arranged by grade to be collected outdoors by families. Islander Photo: Brook Morrison

Anna Maria Elementary began distance learning March 30 through “Schoology,” an online program allowing teachers to create lessons and communicate with their students.

Students will complete and submit assignments via the online platform.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the district took action and Manatee County schools were closed until at least April 15.

The week of March 23-27, teachers returned to AME to train in “Schoology” and prepare take-home packages for students that contained pencils and paper, workbooks and information on how to connect with school during the pandemic.

AME kindergarten teacher Kelly Crawford said while preparing for online teaching, there were a lot of tears and she was “extremely blessed to work with such a great group of educators and staff members.”

“We miss our students and would much rather be teaching them in class, but we will do what must be done for the students to continue learning and all stay healthy,” Crawford said.

The bags were labeled and lined up on the outdoor benches by grade and teacher.

Parents and family members collected the bags throughout the week.

“I’m having fun prepping for home school because I get to rearrange my desk and I got a new giant whiteboard to do spelling words and math,” AME third-grader Jackson Kennedy said March 26 in a text message to The Islander.

Students need internet access and a desktop or laptop computer and those without access were put on a list to receive Google Chrome laptops and free Spectrum internet service through the Manatee County School District.

Laptops on loan were available to select students at the school March 30.

AME computer teacher Pam Landers is available school days to answer parent or student questions regarding online learning or setup the program.

“If anyone has a question or concern, please, leave a message for me at the school, and I will return the call as soon as possible to help,” Landers said March 25 via phone to the Islander.

Teachers will post messages to classes and students on “Schoology” lessons and assignments.

AME principal Jackie Featherston sent AME families a message of support March 23.

“Words cannot express how concerned I am for everyone in the Anna Maria family,” Featherston wrote.

She continued, saying school would be closed until April 15, but to be prepared for the closure to be extended.

“If any of the assignments are causing stress in the household or if you are wanting additional resources, please, let your teacher know and they will help you make the work manageable,” Featherston said.

She suggested physical activities and recess also should be a part of each student’s routine.

“Phone lines will be monitored and email checked every work day,” said Featherston.

Teachers, staff and students alike are making the best of preparing for their new way of learning and teaching.