Richmond Heights Schools get grant to help improve its remote education practices

RICHMOND HEIGHTS, Ohio — Richmond Heights Local Schools have been awarded a grant of nearly $100,000 which it will use to help improve remote education practices and outcomes.

The grant comes at a time when the pandemic has forced the district, and many others in the area, to teach remotely. The grant was awarded by The Ohio Collaborative Fund for Educating Remotely and Transforming Schools, a fund whose partnership aims to use remote education as a catalyst for re-imagining and re-engineering the delivery of high-quality caring, teaching, and learning opportunities for the state’s underserved students.

Richmond Heights Schools plan to use the grant money to fund its “Hope Squad to Learning Pod” initiative, an adaptive response to the changes in traditional learning measures brought on by the pandemic.

“Because in-person learning is not possible in our district,” Superintendent Renee Willis stated, in a release, “we were forced to seek alternative learning sites, additional staff, and innovative endeavors to address the myriad needs of our vulnerable student body.

“We are committed to helping our students, staff, and families thrive, even and especially in these volatile times. We’re grateful to have more resources to help us meet our children where they are.”

The Learning Pods are a safe, campus-based instructional environment where students have the support of teaching staff and aides to help them navigate challenges that may arise during the school day. In addition, Learning Pod students are provided with a personal electronic device with reliable connectivity, and all physical materials and supplies needed to complement their learning experience.

It is also hoped that the the Learning Pods will serve to ease parental anxiety about where their children will receive instruction, a problematic issue for parents who work outside of the home and for those without reliable Internet access.

The Richmond Heights Schools release states, “The effects of this financial support will go a long way toward helping students, teachers, and parents engage meaningfully with respect to not only students’ academic wellbeing, but also their social, and emotional health, as grant provisions will enable students to participate in socio-emotional instruction, as well. This is a key component of the Hope Squad to Learning Pod initiative, as administrators recognize the additional difficulties families face because of COVID-19 related trauma.”

Willis stated that the Hope Squad provides a safe, stimulating environment and positive interaction, and gives students the tools they need to participate in class, all of which, she said, are elements to a high-quality education.

Assistant Superintendent and Middle School/High School Principal Marnisha Brown said that the first Academic Learning Pod began operation on Dec. 7, and takes place each weekday except Wednesdays. “We began with our elementary scholars, grades (kindergarten through third grade), and are located at the elementary school building in our Multipurpose Room and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Lab.”

While the pod has begun with the youngest students, Brown said, “The goal is to have all grades, K through 12, included in the Academic Learning Pods by the end of January.”

While the Richmond Heights Schools have taught remotely during the first semester, Brown said the goal is to bring back all students during the second semester.

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