New School Year 2020

A Different Back to School 2020
Posted on 09/04/2020
Ready to Learn - Student at Home Classroom

Phoenixville, PA – On August 20, 2020, Renaissance Academy Charter School (RA) began its 20th school year. Only this year, the academy's buildings looked a little different. Like all other school districts around the globe, Renaissance has been preparing for the use of instruction designs made necessary by the current COVID-19 pandemic. Students arrived on August 20, not with plans of attending classes, but to pick up Chromebooks, text books, and supplies which they will use during their virtual school days being taught by their teachers.

One RA staff member noted, "While it was certainly a different first day of school, it was moving to see the students so happy to be back on their school campus. Though smiling from behind masks, the students seemed excited and ready to learn."

While at school, students met up with their homeroom teachers, some for the first time. In addition to the 144 faculty and staff members, RA has some new faces who joined the school personnel for 2019-2020. These include Maxwell Bicking, Math; Alyssa Fell, LTS 2nd grade; Elizabeth Fels, LTS Dance' Andrew Genuardi, Special Education; Stephan Hayes, Music & Band; Ashley Morse, Special Education; Averey Newmiller, Kindergarten Aide; Elizabeth O'Leary, Music & Choir; Julia Swisher, Kindergarten Aide; and Diane Yeomans, Kindergarten Aide.

Although learning from home poses a number of challenges, the virtual learning platform has been largely embraced by the RA community. Just as they would have if they were on campus, students have a daily schedule with core subjects, fine arts, and class meetings along with recess, lunchtime, and breaks. There is live, real-time instruction by the teachers along with virtual classrooms for each class throughout the day.

"The decision to proceed with 100% virtual learning was not an easy one." said Dr. Gina Guarino Buli, RA CEO. "A safe and healthy learning environment was at the forefront of this resolution. We are pleased with the way our parents and students have stepped into this new education style, but not surprised. Our families have always put a strong emphasis on the importance of education for their children."

Two weeks into remote learning, school is in full swing. Teachers are virtually educating their student with imaginative lesson designed to engage distance learners. Parents have used their creativity to set up "home classrooms".

A parent of a 5th and 9th grade RA student said that her children feel a sense of relief to be safe in a quarantine situation but still have virtual interaction with their classmates and teachers. "With all the anxiety and stress of supporting my full time job and my children's education during this pandemic I will say that over the last two weeks it has been manageable and exciting to see them learn. To peek in on my 5th grader actively participate in music class with music sticks and to see his ability to use physical and virtual text books to follow the teachers virtual instruction in the core subjects is refreshing. My 10th grader has the flexibility to be able to complete classwork and homework assignments in a comfortable environment." She when on to say that, "While RACS is definitely a brick and mortar charter, to see them flex into the virtual model has been remarkable. The staff have been compassionate and caring and flexible where they see the needs. As a parent, it makes me proud as to be part of this amazing and diverse community."

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