The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, and that means educators across the globe are still finding inventive and innovative ways to support and teach students in classrooms, during hybrid instruction, and in virtual settings.
Never before have educators been challenged and tested as they were, beginning in March 2020 and up until today, and never before has their resilience been more apparent. Administrators, technology leaders, classroom teachers, and educators in all roles have persevered as they taught each and every one of their students during a global pandemic.
Here, eSchool News highlights Newark Public Schools–one of its K-12 Hero Awards finalists. Keep reading to discover how this district keeps learning going in the middle of a global pandemic.
Nominee: Newark Public Schools
Nominated by: Lexia Learning
What makes this nominee a hero?
In the early weeks following school closures due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, districts like Newark Public Schools did an amazing job of pivoting their instructional model to keep students learning while they quickly transitioned to remote learning.
It was also the strong leadership they exhibited that was so critically important in enabling educators to effectively maintain their students’ continuity of learning as instruction moved from in-person to at a distance. The administration rose to the challenge of bringing all the right actors together to ensure messaging was consistently shared throughout the district.
The first step they took was to expand their use of Lexia Learning’s Lexia® Core5® Reading and Lexia® PowerUp® Literacy throughout the districts K-5 and K-8 schools (serving over 20,000 students across 41 schools) after the district’s trial subscription successfully helped teachers both within their classrooms before the pandemic and with remote learning that began in March 2020.
The district also decided to support educators through that critical time by ensuring strong, ongoing implementations of the literacy programs as teachers adjusted to remote teaching by expanding access to just-in-time professional learning resources.
“We were using Core5 in just six of our elementary schools prior to the pandemic,” said Dr. Mary Ann Reilly, assistant superintendent for Teaching and Learning. “When COVID-19 hit and our schools transitioned to remote learning, we were able to quickly expand Core5 to all our elementary schools. The program was flexible enough to enable us to provide continuity of instruction to students remotely, targeting literacy gaps and even accelerating learning. We were impressed with the programs and how helpful Lexia was during the transition. And we remained confident that our students would continue to make gains with good teaching and Lexia.”
It was the district’s thoughtful implementation of Lexia Academy, the company’s eLearning platform offering on-demand professional learning courses, that drove the teachers’ incredible resilience during that difficult time. The district gave educators access to “anytime, anywhere” support that helped them develop best practices for meaningful instruction for remote learning. Newark educators embraced courses on topics like Structured Literacy, remote teaching strategies, and effective reading instruction for students with dyslexia–all meant to help students experience gains, not losses–during the quick move away from face-to-face learning.
“Professional development around Structured Literacy is something that must be provided to all teachers. Time and resources are often a barrier to providing educators with critical learning opportunities that help them reduce students’ reading failure rate. Lexia Academy provided high-quality, asynchronous professional learning that fit educators’ schedules whether they were working in the classroom or virtually,” added Erica Paich, Special Assistant, North Ward Leadership Team, Newark, NJ Public Schools.
There’s no doubt that during the difficult challenges of the past 16 months, the Newark Public School system demonstrated what it takes to be a hero–it championed the needs of students and teachers alike; it was courageous in tackling the challenges of remote learning. The district remained hyper focused and continued to stay connected to bring personalized learning to each student. It motivated its teachers and gave them the tools and resources to continue delivering individualized instruction. And in light of all of the upheaval, teachers and students delivered outstanding results.
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