When asked what makes being part of the RISE Network unique, educators repeatedly echo their appreciation for the power, effectiveness and collaborative nature of the network. RISE educators express gratitude for opportunities to partner with staff from different districts, share pitfalls and triumphs, and discuss how to improve and refine practices. This innovation and togetherness was evident in response to recent events.
When COVID-19 led to sudden statewide school closures, everyone paused for a moment, wondering what this would mean for our students, educators and buildings. But in embodying the true essence of the amazing educators that comprise the RISE Network, that’s all it was, an incredibly short and very temporary pause. Quickly and suddenly, RISE educators were virtual, continuing to come together across the network to discuss best practices to support student growth at this tumultuous time. They did so communicating exclusively through electronic devices, with a focus on creating a virtual learning community.
Additionally, RISE principals came together in a virtual setting to learn from each other and discuss the structures and policies for this new virtual environment. Principals will continue to meet weekly to discuss topics such as student and family needs, and implications or next steps regarding grading and attendance policies.
Members of the RISE Educator Advisory Council (REAC) engaged in an online discussion regarding the needs of classroom teachers. East Hartford High School data teams virtually convened to discuss trends in student needs, including social emotional support, case management of SPED and 504 students, and troubleshooting technology needs; then turning the discussion to specific students that would benefit from individualized support.
Meriden public schools capitalized on social media, finding creative ways to connect their students to the normalcy of their previous day to day routines. For example, Mr. Drew Blythe provided students with daily announcements. Ms. Amy Bishop used clear and consistent communication to reinforce critical information from her colleagues about using and accessing their new electronic platform, including grade level Google Classroom codes.
East Hartford’s superintendent, Mr. Nate Quesnel has been posting motivational messages to his staff and students. Manchester High School’s ninth grade administrator, Mr. Roy Roberts, stressed the importance of taking care of yourself on his social media account, encouraging students and faculty to engage in a fun pushup challenge. Westhill High School also had some fun, hosting a virtual spirit week, trying to create a sense of community and regularity during these trying times.
The network is adapting to its new virtual platform and continues to inspire us everyday. The amazing educators who are striving to achieve breakthrough results, with consideration to student and family needs during these unprecedented times, continue to impress us as well. We hope every RISE educator and all 14,000 students that are a part of this amazing community are physically and emotionally healthy. We are excited by the potential opportunities that may arise during our network being virtual, but very much look forward to connecting with you in person once things settle.