Like many schools around the country, Discovery is receiving a significant amount of funding from the Federal Government through the CARES, CRRSA and ARP acts (see more information here).
Some of these funds have already been used by the school, starting in the Spring of 2020, while a good amount will be used between now and September 2024.
Starting in the spring of 2020, the Discovery team of teachers worked on planning the following school year. A Restart Committee was also established, and included students, parents, board trustees, and staff members. This planning work has been ongoing since then.
In planning the use of these federal funds, we focused on five needs of our students:
- Maintaining a safe physical learning space
We need to maintain a safe learning environment with the required precautions to prevent Covid-19 transmission.
- Re-engaging students in their education and strengthening their work habits
Many of our children need to re-engage with challenging and rigorous work, better manage their time, focus on their goals, and effectively use feedback from their teachers or peers.
- Reintegrating our students in a safe and supportive learning community
Our students need to re-learn or deepen the culture of being part of an in-person learning community. The children need to rebuild their confidence in existing and expressing themselves in a public learning space. They need to have support to process, express, and develop short-term and long-term solutions for the challenges they have been through in these difficult times.
- Building Stronger Numeracy Skills and Increasing our children’s capacity to struggle productively in math
Students at all grade levels need to reinforce their computation skills in Math, using recognition of patterns, building up a strong number sense, evaluating solving strategies, and internalizing computation algorithms when needed. Our students also need to strengthen their confidence to struggle productively when solving math problems.
- Increasing our student’s reading fluency and their comprehension capabilities
Our children need to become more fluent in their reading capabilities and in the comprehension of the content they consume. This expanded ability should directly increase the volume and quality of reading and writing they are able to produce over the course of a school day/week.
One specific aspect of this need is to widen our students’ exposure to reading materials that enrich their cultural literacy, life experiences, and sustain their engagement. The other aspect of this need is for us to regain a detailed understanding of all the children who are not independently reading, and provide them with the necessary support and interventions.
What are some of the effects of this funding at Discovery?
- We have masks available for all every day and there are sanitizing wipes and hand sanitizer available in all areas of the school. We are able to deep-clean the school everyday and spray disinfectant every night.
- We will replace our water fountains with water bottle filling stations.
- There is new furniture that allows all the students to sit in the same direction and is easier to sanitize. There are new smart boards that allow all children to see the screen, even through plexiglass, or from the back of a class.
- We have enough computing devices for all the children in case we have to go completely remote, and each class can be remotely taught through videoconferencing. Parents' meetings can be held through video conferencing.
- There are HEPA air filters and CO2 monitoring devices throughout the school and we change the filters regularly.
- The children have more time to work with an instructor in a very small group. There are only ten children for every instructor in homeroom, and all the children attend a daily Lunch & Workshop session with a group of ten students.
- All classes are co-taught by at least two instructors so that the children receive more attention. During a lesson, a class will often be split into smaller groups, which allows us to differentiate the instruction and better support our students.
- We are able to run engaging STEM activities such as Robotics and the Live Animal team.
- We are offering after school tutoring to children who need the extra support.
- We are running a summer program, including STEM and arts activities.
- We have and will offer team-building activities with organizations such as Project U.S.E. and Frost Valley. We will also bring children to science field trips and theater, dance, and music live performances.
- Teachers receive training from a mental health professional to better support the socio-emotional skills of our students.
- We provide arts activities that allow our children to express and process their feelings and shape their own voices. We integrate the arts with other academic subjects to better engage our students in the curriculum.