Making a Difference with Benton Elementary
Our congregation has a partnership with Benton Elementary School here in Columbia. We recently received an update from them about the joys and challenges of education in our current circumstances. It's below. Please remember the Benton community in your thoughts and prayers!
Good morning partners!
I woke up this morning with this group on my mind, so I figured I should probably reach out and update you on what’s going on around Benton during COVID-19. Well – NOTHING is going on around Benton, because Benton is on lock-down just like everywhere else! BUT – COMMUNITY continues to happen in many different ways!!! We continue to keep students’ minds engaged in academically– and hopefully off of the pandemic – by sending home work packets to our students every week. Mr. Ray has done a great job making sure our webpage stays current and that students are able to access online activities. CPS central office has been amazing both in response to this world crisis and in looking ahead to plan for our students’ academic experience. Teachers meet weekly – some DAILY – with their students via ZOOM. I am so lucky to get to drop in on these sessions and see the faces of our babies! As you can imagine, they are always smiling and always ready to talk about anything from riding bikes to playing video games! But it is also amazing to watch teachers read to their students or do a short math recap. Ok…maybe amazing is not the word in a virtual kindergarten classroom – but it sure is fun!!! Mrs. Kelty joins classrooms and offers tips on mental and emotional health for little people. Her best tip? Enjoy the sunshine however you can!!! (Six feet apart, of course…) Benton’s “Admin Team” meets weekly to focus on our most needy families and find out how we can be of greatest support to families, teachers and each other. Our faculty meets several times a week to keep up on info and to just check in. This is a very stressful time for our teachers. It’s April. In our minds, we know this is the time when not only flowers bloom, but oh my goodness – little minds just seem to do this “thing” and they take off! All of the learning they’ve done for the last 7 months multiplies and their little minds quadruple in sponge-ability!!! Our teachers are not in their classrooms doing what they are trained (called, really…) to do. This is very difficult for some of them. But it’s not just our minds that are reeling – our hearts are affected by this, too. We continue to do community by checking in with every single child every week – some students more than others – to make sure our families are doing more than just surviving. We still have a few students with whom we’ve not communicated because we don’t have contact information. That is maybe 4 or 5 students. I PROMISE that I have not knocked on any doors, but I may have taken a few drives through neighborhoods to check in on kids as they played outside. Do you know how hard it is not to hug these kiddos??? That being said, I will do my best to make contact with these students by the end of the week. I start delivering Buddy Packs to students today. I have 70 packs that I’ll deliver today and then will do the same on Friday. After this week, I’ll only deliver on Friday. I will do no-contact drop off’s at doors and will be masked and gloved. Don’t worry! I’ll be fine. But this also gives me the chance to lay eyes on some of our babies that we haven’t seen yet. Sadly, we have lost two parents since we started doing school from home. Neither death was COVID-19 related. We are doing what we can to continue to support these families. PIE’s have helped without knowing. We’ve been able to provide families with food gift cards and take a family grocery shopping by using some of the resources you provided. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. We WILL go on – and we’ll keep teaching, helping, providing, loving our families as best we can. We are not in the ideal situation. But we are doing the best we can – TODAY – while we keep looking to make tomorrow better! Just wanted you to know how much we appreciate you and think of you as part of our community, too. Be well. Stay safe. cathy