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School’s Out Early. Now What?

From Sarna’s Desk:

SEEDS Ecology & Education Centers currently has state funded contracts to partner with 11 rural schools around the region and provide daily academic and cultural enrichment. With the recent executive order to cancel school-as-we-know it for the remainder of the school year, our workload just got harder.

At this time SEEDS remains at 100% staff capacity, and our commitment is unwavering.

Since 1999, our educators have provided over 600,000 hours of enrichment to thousands of rural students. Our programming has always focused on creating opportunities for social and emotional learning, hands-on activities, and connecting academics to nutrition and the out-of-doors.

Parents are now faced with increased child care and instructional care responsibilities. Disparities around access and support are more stark than ever and the flat truth is that some students aren’t getting the learning time and care they deserve. Therefore SEEDS is doubling down on our capacity to support our partner public schools in reaching every last student and delivering enriching content to every last mile.

Knowing that not everyone has internet access and not everyone can learn from a computer, the teachers of SEEDS are focused on the development and delivery of lessons that can be self-directed, are hands-on, and encourage people to spend time learning about the ecology just outside their doors.

Above: SEEDS students engage in outdoor activities based on challenges presented by our teaching staff. Left: Owen is exploring nature. Right: Bailey is growing onions and measuring their height every day.

In a culture already challenged by too much screen-time, off-line learning just became even more critical.

Our staff have been actively responding to these current challenges:

  • Supporting school food service personnel with distribution
  • Delivering printed learning packets direct to families
  • Sharing lessons on multiple platforms
  • Making it easier for adults to prompt learning and curiosity and encouraging students to be self-directed
  • Personally reaching out to parents and their kids
  • Partnering with others to deepen and expand access and positive impacts

The responses to this unprecedented learning challenge will be localized and locally driven. This means that every caring adult can be a Teacher Who Matters. Investing in your kids, your kids’ kids, and in the kids who live nearby is one of the best ways to invest in a positive future for all of us. Luckily, we’re in this together with excellent administrators, loving families, and talented neighbors. For this we are profoundly grateful.

Left: Deb at Kaleva Norman Dickson Elementary in Brethren helps distribute meals to families. Right: Packages full of hands-on activities created by SEEDS staff for their students.

Together we are nothing if not nimble and adaptive. Let us decide to join our strengths and coordinate a response that truly serves ALL of our families and ALL of our learners. And then let’s share what we learn with other families, schools, and districts across the state.

The communities of NW lower Michigan have an opportunity to collaborate, to coordinate, and to stand out as a region demonstrating effective educational resilience. If we can’t, who can? If we don’t, the costs are incalculable.