Current events have shown us just how important the digital era is to our work and lives. With the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, many companies and organizations around the globe have successfully switched to digital systems.
Here in Atlanta, our very own Chaya Mushka Children’s House Elementary and Middle School was quick to adapt to this change. When the call came to close the doors to brick-and-mortar schools, CMCH immediately made the decision to pivot to remote learning. Their exceptional teachers and staff got up to speed on how to utilize Google Classroom and Zoom Meeting technology to set up fully functioning virtual classrooms for students from the first grade and up.
As the world slowly came to terms with a new reality, students and teachers at CMCH jumped in full force to online remote learning in a way that can only be described as magical.
The turnaround time from location-based schooling to online schooling: One day.
“When we moved forward with a full schedule of online learning our intention was, to continue providing the excellent education our students deserve,” said Mrs. Leah Sollish, CMCH’s Judaic Studies Principal. “Additionally, we wanted to provide a sense of stability to our students and their families in these uncertain times.”
CMCH’s efforts have engendered a rush of positive feedback. Parents, students, and teachers have all felt a tremendous sense of community and family.
“It’s really amazing to see how fast our school went from a brick-and-mortar operation to a totally online school,” said CMCH parent Seth Fleishman. “In talking to friends and neighbors, CMCH really outpaced all the local day schools in getting the school online,” he added.
The feedback from both parents and faculty has been much the same. “We went from closing school on Friday afternoon to being online and running nearly a full schedule on Tuesday morning,” said CMCH General Studies Principal Ms. Elaine Padron. “The teachers have been amazing in taking control of learning the technology and figuring out different ways to utilize the software, even to the point of having virtual exercise classes.”
How are students adapting to the new remote learning experience? “It is very different than the regular classroom,” CMCH eighth grader Adiel Livnat said, “and in a positive way. I’ve actually found it easier in some ways to do work and be less distracted.”
It takes a coordinated effort to take a school fully online with such a smooth transition, and indeed it has been a full team effort from everyone at CMCH.
In their new virtual classroom setting CMCH students are enjoying a full day of studies and activities. Classes run from 9:00 in the morning until 3:00 in the afternoon, with the usual breaks in between.
Davening (praying) is happening virtually and remotely as well. The youngest students sing along in real-time with their morah (teacher.) Some of the students daven led by recordings of their teachers, while others enjoy the opportunity to daven at home with their families.
The teachers open the virtual classrooms a little early to allow the students to socialize with their friends. This has been an exciting part of the day for the students, as they have been isolated at home during the pandemic. “We appreciate the social aspect of being able to see educators and friends during this time,” said parent Emily Hoffman, “and we value knowing that our son is getting a solid, full-day education at CMCH every day.”
As this is new technology for everyone involved, there is understandably a learning curve. The CMCH staff have been phenomenal in taking the time to make sure everyone has all the resources they need to be successful with virtual learning.
“I was a little worried about how the students would adapt to online learning, especially the students that are typically on the quieter side,” said teacher Rachel Branham. “It amazes me to see how the opposite was true—how online learning has allowed the typically quiet students to be more vocal and more self-confident. I believe that this is something that will not only benefit them today but will also teach them valuable life-skills down the road.”
“CMCH First Graders were excited and ready to get straight to work,” said Morah Mushkie Shemtov. “The children adapted quickly. All of this could not have been done without the amazing work of our excellent administration, teachers, and, of course, the parents whose patience and support has helped make every day of online learning a success.”
CMCH Executive Board Member Rabbi Isser New summed it up: “We all appreciate the effort the staff made in making sure our children continue getting an excellent education every day. Kol Hakavod CMCH!”