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 Center Line High School teacher Christel Cook works during the stay-at-home order.

Center Line High School teacher Christel Cook works during the stay-at-home order.

Photo provided by Center Line Public Schools


Students continue education through online learning

By: Maria Allard | Warren Weekly | Published May 7, 2020

 An example of a Center Line High School math lesson students are learning.

An example of a Center Line High School math lesson students are learning.

Photo provided by Center Line Public Schools

CENTER LINE/WARREN — With school buildings closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, teachers have found different ways to instruct their students online.

It has been a challenge for teachers, students and parents, but with the right training, the educators have been able to continue teaching using various online programs. A virtual classroom is an online learning environment that allows teachers and students to communicate, interact, collaborate and share ideas.

In March, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the closure of all statewide public, private and boarding schools from March 16 through April 5. At the time, all Center Line Public Schools’ teachers, teachers aides and paraprofessionals completed the Google Education Tools Level 1 certification course. 

Once finished with the 13-15 hour class, the educators were then able to communicate and instruct their students in a virtual teaching learning environment. It’s been an adjustment. One challenge has been communicating with parents who aren’t tech-savvy; another has been finding supplies for families without computers at home. Because of the pandemic, Whitmer eventually closed school in Michigan for the rest of the school year.

According to CLPS Superintendent Eve Kaltz, the Google Education Tools include Google Classroom and Google Hangouts, which all teachers have been using, minus a few that have used Schoology all year and wanted to continue with that. The programs allow teachers to streamline assignments and collaborate with their students. Educators can create classes, distribute assignments and provide feedback. 

In addition to the online learning, CLPS officials continue to hold virtual central office meetings, principals' meetings and staff meetings. Principals and central office staff have joined classroom sessions with the students as well. 

“We have been extremely excited about the number of our kids who are participating,” Kaltz said in an email. “Our staff, students and their families have been amazing. Everyone has stepped up to ensure that this is a valuable and meaningful learning time.”

Wolfe Middle School teachers Chanel Maloney and Stephenie Napier have worked hard to keep in touch with their students.

“We’ve been able to maintain that connection with the students,” Maloney said. “We’re used to seeing our students Monday through Friday. Having this remote learning has been challenging for us, our students and parents. We’re trying out ways to make it work.”

Although the lessons have been scaled down, the students are “getting a lot of reading, video demonstrations and things to watch,” Maloney said. She added “It’s not meant to be overwhelming for parents. We just want to make sure the students have access to learning opportunities.”

Maloney and Napier have been able to hold two different one-hour virtual class sessions with their students each week: one on Wednesday afternoons and one on Friday mornings. The largest class the two educators were able to teach at once included 154 of their students. The teachers sense their students are happy to see each other during the group classes. 

“They just wish we were in school,” Napier said. 

During a recent class, Maloney and Napier invited all of their students to check in 10 minutes prior to class starting so that they could chat and share stories. 

Both teachers are also holding many online group sessions with students, as well as one-on-one meetings. Maloney and Napier are also communicating with families by phone. It’s typical for Napier, for instance, to receive text messages and emails from her students who might need help opening a document or uploading a photo until 2 a.m. 

The teachers miss the students and look forward to returning to the classroom.

“We love them and miss them,” Napier said. 

Maloney is reminding all to stay safe and stay positive.

“We need each other’s support,” she said. 

In the meantime, Napier said educators meet online daily to discuss and brainstorm ideas should another school shutdown occur in the future.