Learning facilitators helping students catch up post pandemic
RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - One of the hidden impacts of the pandemic has been the interruption of many kids’ education. Now back in school, they’re behind, needing help to catch up and many are getting it.
After two years of delayed beginnings and uneven progress, kids at Glenn Duncan STEM academy are getting some extra attention from a veteran educator with a special assignment, helping them catch up to where they would have been had there been no pandemic.
“Some kids were out of school for the majority of two years and that’s going to take a lot of work,” says Adriena Publico who manages the project.
Amy Benham is well suited for the role. “I was in the classroom for 19 years and now I get to offer the support to teachers that I always wish I’d had.”
This assignment has her working one on one with about 40 of the school’s students, but her presence is likely to influence the entire student body.
“I do intervention groups. I do walk-throughs and observations of teachers and students.”
“She also regularly observes teachers and gives them feedback,” says Glenn Duncan Principal Katie Weir. “So, if for example, she gave a professional development on a certain strategy, she goes into the classroom and sees that strategy working. Then she will call that out and say ‘You know I see that with these three students they’re making progress. It’s really working. Let’s keep it going and let’s try it with more students.’”
She’s called a learning facilitator and these days, thanks to $77 million dollars in federal funding through the American Rescue Plan, the project called ‘Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief’ or ‘ESSER,’ each of the school district’s 45 elementary schools has one like her, watching, planning, helping students and their teachers.
“Having extra people in each building really helps,” says Publico, “because students can get the individualized and small-group attention they need in order to restore whatever gaps in knowledge they have.”
The program is funded for three years and there’s evidence already it’s working.
“We have seen a large majority of a majority of our students make a year’s worth of progress in just a half a year or five out of the nine months of school,” says Weir, “which is incredible considering what we’re up against.”
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