By: Susan Gum // April 22th, 2020 // Featured Stories
Although the school building is closed, academic learning continues at Delmarva Christian Schools. After only missing two days of instruction, classes resumed on March 18, and students are on target to meet the school’s rigorous academic objectives by the school year’s scheduled conclusion on June 2, 2020.
“I am amazed, but not at all surprised, at each teacher adapting and working tirelessly to continue an excellent education for our DCS students,” said DCS Director of Instruction Jessica Baugh. “It has presented beautiful opportunities for partnership, growth, and innovation.”
The mission of Delmarva Christian Schools is to proclaim the gospel by preparing students spiritually, academically, and physically to know and do God’s will in their lives. A large part of that preparation includes giving students the tools needed for college and workforce success. That is why Delmarva Christian held their first Online Learning Days as far back as 2011. That year, the school also launched the first 1:1 iPad program in Delaware by providing their students with the devices necessary for unique learning opportunities. To this day, Delmarva Christian continues with these initiatives by devoting two consecutive days every October to online and virtual learning.
“Initially, the idea for online learning came from early research stating that 74% of public universities and 60.5% of private universities saw online courses as a key part of their long-term plans,” said Interim Head of School Matt Kwiatkowski. “Knowing this was a growing trend in higher education, we felt it was important that our high school students have experience with online learning and engage them in activities outside the traditional classroom.”
As an added benefit, Online Learning Days have provided DCS teachers more time to embark in professional development activities, engage with fellow educators, learn new technologies, and experiment with different delivery methods and lessons. The teachers continue to explore and test innovative learning strategies as well as fine-tune technologies like Moodle, Google Hangouts, and most recently Zoom.
“Now that our school has transitioned to online learning full-time because of the COVID-19 outbreak, our students and teachers are already well equipped and knowledgeable in managing their coursework at home for an online experience,” said DCHS Academic Lead and English Teacher Kelley Ridley.
In addition to Delmarva Christian’s high school, the teachers at the Milton campus have also been adopting innovative teaching methods for their Pre-Kindergarten through 8th-grade students. Soon after when Delmarva Christian Schools acquired the new campus in 2015, the school has been delivering technology with a purpose. The use of computer technology is available for students as young as kindergarten and continues through the grades to include word-processing and design software instruction. Led by the DCS Director of Instruction, teachers at the Milton Campus also participate in weekly professional development activities developing innovative and collaborative instructional strategies that have resulted in a rich and rigorous curriculum. “The staff at Delmarva Christian operates as a community where we encourage one another and help each other through collaboration,” said Mrs. Ridley. “We continue to come together as a staff weekly through personal calls and Zoom conferencing to discuss strategies and address concerns. Above all, while maintaining a strong focus on academics and growth in our student body, we value compassion and grace. In the midst of a pandemic, we understand the importance of extending grace to students and praying alongside them for their families.”
Delmarva Christian parent Leia Dypsky and her children, DCMC 7th grader Isaiah and DCHS senior Isabel, have been working hard keeping up with schoolwork and making face masks for Bayhealth and Beebe Healthcare workers and Chick-fil-A employees. Initially, Isaiah and Isabel were in New Orleans when school transitioned to full-time online learning; however, both have adapted well with Isaiah especially enjoying the creative ways coursework is now being delivered. Understandably, for Isabel, the circumstances are a bit different; but, with the encouragement of her teachers, she is persevering and doing well, even in her AP English Literature and Composition class. “Mrs. Ridley is very helpful and by using ZOOM almost every day, Isabel stays connected, is able to keep up with her studies, and is even able to do homework with her friends,” said Mrs. Dypsky. “We are so appreciative that we were able to jump in right away and quickly resume a routine, and we are pleased with the way the teachers and administration have responded to our students’ needs.”