|A Pinecrest student participates in a Zoom session.|
The headlines about distance learning have not been encouraging with Fairfax County Public Schools online classes shut down for a variety of reasons – problems logging in to security lapses to inappropriate student behavior.
But there are bright spots in the county, including right here in Annandale, where Pinecrest School has shown itself to be nimble, responsive, and innovative.
|Pinecrest students share their projects online.|
But when schools were ordered closed for the rest of the academic year, Pinecrest Head of School Nicole McDermott led the teachers through a crash course in distance learning and understanding how secure online meeting platforms work. Starting on April 13, all students were participating in online classes each day. There is also an online site for parents to download more learning packets and other materials should they choose.
In addition to regular classroom work – math, science, language arts, and social studies – the students receive instruction in music, PE, STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) and participate in online socials. More plans are in the works, too, like adding yoga, improv, cartooning, and magic classes.
The work has included many of the activities the students would have been completing if they were on the Pinecrest campus on Quiet Cove in Annandale. For example, third-graders still gave their individual class presentations, demonstrating via teleconference everything from cake baking to fishing to how to make a vanilla milkshake.
The fourth, fifth and sixth-graders are busy planning their science fair projects, which also will be presented online from the safety of their homes. Even our 3 and 4-year-old preschoolers are online regularly for engagement and learning opportunities, including the popular Show and Tell.
In keeping with its “This is Community” motto, Pinecrest School also has been a hub of support for parents and families, as well as students.
The school has also been a steady presence for its constituents in other forms:
- Setting an example through all of the teachers’ and administrator’s hard work and creativity.
- Constant, steady, and transparent communications. McDermott has relayed resources to parents, not just on how to manage children at home but also information that supports the health and well-being of the entire family. She’s also been a resource for information and news, such as what she and the teachers are working on and information from the local, state, and federal levels.
The situation isn’t one that anyone would choose for their children but we can still be proud of the results.
For Pinecrest School, it is also like the Gene Kranz quote from Apollo 13 – “This is going to be our finest hour.”
Nick Wakeman is a Washington technology editor and a member of the Pinecrest School Board.