Thomas Academy teachers demonstrating creativity in virtual classroom

April 30, 2020

Lake Waccamaw, NC – A coat hanger served as a cell phone holder to allow for viewing a math problem being worked out. A late afternoon phone call was made explaining how to access a Google classroom portal to a technology challenged parent and a Zoom class was run for students to keep them academically challenged.

These are just some of the challenges and solutions the Thomas Academy teachers have been working through since March with the coronavirus shutting down public schools across North Carolina.

“Our teachers have been incredible,” said Thomas Academy Director Dr. Geraldine Bradshaw. “They have been asked to be creative in providing our students with a quality education, and they have risen to the challenge.”

The first challenge for teachers was how to get the information to the students quickly. While the initial offerings were through hard copy packets of work, the classes have moved to Zoom and most recently Google classroom.

“Because our students have different technology accessibility, we are doing everything we can to meet students where they are,” Bradshaw said. “Our teachers are making phone calls, sending text messages, responding to emails and working through Google classroom to make sure that the information is being received. We are even delivering hard copy packets to the handful of students without digital technology options. The teachers are making sure that each of the students is provided with every opportunity for success.”

Teachers had a chance to demonstrate that commitment to the families within the first week of classes being relocated from the school to homes due to COVID-19 precautions. In place of a standard parent/teacher conference session, a Zoom conference was set up for a Thursday afternoon. The system was overwhelmed and several families were locked out from access. Once Dr. Bradshaw was made aware of the problem, a second Zoom conference was quickly scheduled for 9:30 on Friday morning.

“I intended to run the conference myself to answer questions for those families who were locked out on Thursday,” said Bradshaw. “Instead, all of the teachers showed up to answer questions directly.”

Vice President for Education Dr. Tom Simmons is not surprised by the way the teachers are responding.

“At Thomas Academy, we hire educators who put the student first,” said Simmons. “Our educators are committed to developing the whole person. This challenge is opening up their creativity in ways we never even imagined possible.”

With the order to keep schools closed through the end of this academic year, the Thomas Academy team is continuing to work together to determine the best way to keep students committed to the learning process through June.

“Our teachers are exploring all the different methods available to make sure that the students have an incentive to keep coming back,” Bradshaw said. “It’s a different world, but our teachers are making sure to do everything possible to keep up.”

About Thomas Academy

Thomas Academy is a North Carolina Public Charter School that educates middle and high school students. Located in Lake Waccamaw, the academy provides a tailored academic experience to students who are oftentimes in need of a more specialized, integrated curriculum. Thomas Academy was founded on personalization in education, unique offerings and educating through purposeful design. Enrollment is open to any student in grades six through 12. For more information, visit our website www.thomasacademync.org.