How We Plan to Stay Healthy Over Thanksgiving

As part of our transparency effort about our school safety plans during the pandemic, we are sharing our suggestions to staff members about precautions to take during the Thanksgiving holiday.

This list of precautionary measures and solutions was informed by our months-long collaboration with public health experts at the CDC and Johns Hopkins University. Many of these suggestions were originally designed for our schools, but we re-shaped them for the home so that our staff members can apply them during the holidays. By coming back to school safe and healthy, we can continue serving our students with a high-quality education.

Below is the first segment of the guide we are giving to employees. You can also learn more about the safety measures we take in our schools every day by clicking here.

Holiday Celebrations and Gatherings in 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has been stressful and isolating for many people. Gatherings during the upcoming holidays can be an opportunity to reconnect with family and friends. This holiday season consider how your holiday plans can be modified to reduce the spread of COVID-19 to keep your friends, families, and communities healthy and safe.

Considerations for Small Gatherings of Family and Friends

Celebrating virtually or with members of your own household (who are consistently taking measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19) poses the lowest risk for spread. Your household is anyone who currently lives and shares common spaces in your housing unit (such as your house or apartment). This can include family members, as well as roommates or people who are unrelated to you. People who do not currently live in your housing unit, such as college students who are returning home from school for the holidays, should be considered part of different households. In-person gatherings that bring together family members or friends from different households, including college students returning home, pose varying levels of risk.

There are several factors that contribute to the risk of getting and spreading COVID-19 at small in-person gatherings. In combination, these factors will create various amounts of risk:

  • Community levels of COVID-19 – High or increasing levels of COVID-19 cases in the gathering location, as well as in the areas where attendees are coming from, increase the risk of infection and spread among attendees. Family and friends should consider the number of COVID-19 cases in their community and in the community where they plan to celebrate when deciding whether to host or attend a gathering. Information on the number of cases in an area can often be found on the local health department website.
  • Exposure during travelAirports, bus stations, train stations, public transport, gas stations, and rest stops are all places travelers can be exposed to the virus in the air and on surfaces.
  • Location of the gathering – Indoor gatherings, especially those with poor ventilation (for example, small, enclosed spaces with no outside air), pose more risk than outdoor gatherings.
  • Duration of the gathering – Gatherings that last longer pose more risk than shorter gatherings. Being within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more greatly increases the risk of becoming sick and requires a 14-day quarantine.
  • Number and crowding of people at the gathering – Gatherings with more people pose more risk than gatherings with fewer people. CDC does not have a limit or recommend a specific number of attendees for gatherings. The size of a holiday gathering should be determined based on the ability of attendees from different households to stay 6 feet (2 arm lengths) apart, wear masks, wash hands, and follow state, local, territorial, or tribal health and safety laws, rules, and regulations.
  • Behaviors of attendees prior to the gathering – Individuals who did not consistently adhere to social distancing (staying at least 6 feet apart), mask wearing, handwashing, and other prevention behaviors pose more risk than those who consistently practiced these safety measures.
  • Behaviors of attendees during the gathering – Gatherings with more safety measures in place, such as mask wearing, social distancing, and handwashing, pose less risk than gatherings where fewer or no preventive measures are being implemented. Use of alcohol or drugs may alter judgment and make it more difficult to practice COVID-19 safety measures.

People at increased risk for severe illness
If you are an older adult or person with certain medical conditions who is at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19, or live or work with someone at increased risk of severe illness, you should avoid in-person gatherings with people who do not live in your household.

Lower risk activities

  • Having a small dinner with only people who live in your household
  • Preparing traditional family recipes for family and neighbors, especially those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, and delivering them in a way that does not involve contact with others
  • Having a virtual dinner and sharing recipes with friends and family
  • Shopping online rather than in person on the day after Thanksgiving or the next Monday
  • Watching sports events, parades, and movies from home

Moderate risk activities

  • Having a small outdoor dinner with family and friends who live in your community
  • Visiting pumpkin patches or orchards where people use hand sanitizer before touching pumpkins or picking apples, wearing masks is encouraged or enforced, and people are able to maintain social distancing
  • Attending a small outdoor sports events with safety precautions in place

Higher risk activities

  • Going shopping in crowded stores just before, on, or after Thanksgiving
  • Participating or being a spectator at a crowded race
  • Attending crowded parades
  • Attending large indoor gatherings with people from outside of your household
  • Using alcohol or drugs that may alter judgment and make it more difficult to practice COVID-19 safety measures.

The following people should not attend in-person holiday gatherings

Do not host or attend gatherings with anyone who has COVID-19 or has been exposed to someone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days.

Gatherings can contribute to the spread of other infectious diseases. Getting a flu vaccine is an essential part of protecting your health and your family’s health this season. Flu vaccines are useful any time during the flu season and can often be accessed into January or later.

If you would like to read our Thanksgiving safety suggestions for employees in its entirety, click here.

New Studies Show Schools with Strong Safety Plans Do Not Increase COVID Exposure Risk to Students and Staff

As more data and research has come in over the past few months about the COVID-19 pandemic, many epidemiology experts have concluded that in-person school does not create increased risks for children or staff members.

A recent story from NPR highlights three recent studies that indicate schools can reopen with a strong safety plan, which Endeavor Schools implemented early on at the beginning of the pandemic so that we could stay open for the children of essential workers. (For more details about our safety plan, click here.)

One of the studies came out of Spain, which has been one of the hardest hit countries during the pandemic. The Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya study found no correlation between rising infections and school re-openings. In addition, when students or staff did test positive, 87 percent did not infect anyone at their school.

The Spanish study looked at data from across one country. But Insights for Education conducted a study that looked at data from 191 countries and found that there is no correlation between school re-openings and rising infection rates.

“There is no consistent pattern,” Dr. Randa Grob-Zakhary, the CEO of Insights for Education, told NPR. “It’s not that closing schools leads to a decrease in cases, or that opening schools leads to a surge in cases.”

She added: “Schools do not seem to be the superspreaders that people feared they would be.”

The third study came from Yale University and looked at data from 57,000 childcare and education workers from across all 50 U.S. states, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. That study found that the workers who continued working in schools during the pandemic did not have higher infection rates compares to those who stayed home.

“Until now, decision makers had no way to assess whether opening child care centers would put staff at greater risk of contracting COVID-19,” said Dr. Walter Gilliam, the study’s lead author and a professor of psychology at the Yale Child Study Center. “This study tells us that as long as there are strong on-site measures to prevent infection, providing care for young children doesn’t seem to add to the provider’s risk of getting sick.”

As more data comes in, the consensus that schools can be safe environments for children and staff alike is growing.

Dr. Anish K. Jha, a professor of public health at Harvard University, recently wrote on Twitter: “You know where we are NOT seeing a lot of spread? In K-12 schools. Schools aren’t immune but we are likely overestimating their danger. We really do need to open more schools.”

Endeavor Schools’ Safety Plan

Of course, the accuracy of this new data is contingent on schools implementing and adhering to a strong safety plan. At Endeavor Schools, we developed our safety plan with public health experts from the CDC and Johns Hopkins University. You can read details about our safety plan on this site and watch the video below.

Yale Study Shows School Safety Efforts Can Protect School Employees from COVID-19

At the beginning of the pandemic, Endeavor Schools consulted with top experts to implement a comprehensive safety plan to protect our staff and students. A strong safety plan protects school communities and a Yale University study published in the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics has now provided evidence.

The study, which took place from May 22 to June 8, and surveyed 57,335 childcare workers at the preschool age and below, found that there was no elevated risk of infection to these workers when preventative measures are implemented.

Data was included from all 50 states across the country, with the most data coming from California, Florida, and Ohio – three states where we operate several schools.

“This is the first large-scale study of COVID-19 transmission in childcare programs. The study utilized a large sample of U.S. childcare providers, and results were robust to different analytic approaches and to various tests of exposure interaction effects,” the study’s authors wrote. “Overall, we found no evidence of childcare being a significant contributor to COVID-19 transmission to adults. This finding is consistent with previous studies showing a lack of association between school closures and transmission rates.

According to the study, a major reason why there was no increased exposure is the high level of safety procedures in many schools, which include the following steps:

  • symptom screening upon entrance
  • smaller class sizes
  • social distancing
  • frequent handwashing
  • sanitation of touched objects and surfaces throughout the day

At Endeavor Schools, our safety plan has included all these mitigation efforts and much more. In addition to these protocols, we have professional janitorial services periodically perform enhanced cleaning in our classrooms and outdoor areas and we have also upgraded the air ventilation systems in several of our facilities. We have also implemented stricter limitations on who can enter our schools, limiting entrance only to students and staff.

It is heartening to see a study by a reputable institution like Yale University show that a strong safety plan can protect school workers, especially in the early childhood education field, where children need close supervision. And given that our safety efforts exceed the norm, it only encourages us to continue doing better to protect the health of our staff and students.

Endeavor Schools Launches Learning Labs to Provide an On-Campus Option for Elementary Students in Remote Learning Programs

With the uncertainty surrounding school openings this fall, families need stability and safety so their children can continue their education. For this reason, Endeavor Schools, a top education management and private school company, has created its new Learning Labs Program, which gives elementary students enrolled in remote learning programs an on-campus experience.

Through the Learning Labs Program, elementary students can focus on their work, socialize with peers, and receive teacher assistance throughout the day. They also enjoy the other benefits of being at school, including safe playgrounds for outdoor exercise, healthy food options for lunch, and much more. To keep students safe, Endeavor Schools has enacted a strict safety plan that was developed in coordination with the CDC and Johns Hopkins University.

These qualities are vital components of a well-rounded education, especially for young children. Endeavor Schools designed its Learning Labs to ensure remote learning students have all the educational opportunities they would have during in-person schooling.

“We want to ensure that children have an opportunity to enjoy a positive educational experience this fall,” said Endeavor Schools CEO, Ricardo Campo. “Our Learning Labs Program emphasizes our longstanding commitment to high-quality education while helping families restore normalcy to their lives.”

Experienced, Talented Educators

With more than 50 schools across the country and deep experience in teaching elementary school-age students, Endeavor’s Learning Labs provide a high-quality education program led by a talented team of educators, support staff and seasoned school leaders.

In addition to its talented instructors, high-quality learning materials, and beautiful campuses with a wide array of amenities, Endeavor Schools is also offering STEAM projects and other enrichment opportunities to students enrolled in its Learning Labs.

The combination of an on-campus experience and extracurricular activities make the Endeavor Schools Learning Labs a fantastic alternative for displaced students this fall.

Proven Safety Protocols

The Endeavor Schools Learning Labs will emphasize the school experience while maintaining maximum safety standards. The company’s safety plan has been implemented into each one of the company’s schools across the country. By exceeding safety standards recommended by federal and state governments, Endeavor Schools has the proven ability to protect its students and staff members.

Staff members have been thoroughly trained in the new safety procedures and have been practicing them for several months. Endeavor Schools never closed during the pandemic so that it could provide childcare and education to children of essential workers. The experience gained over the past several months has enabled the staff to gain valuable experience in safety measures, such as maintaining social distance in the classroom and sanitation practices necessary to reduce risk of viral transmission. The Endeavor Schools teaching staff has expertly adapted to the stringent but necessary conditions that are required in schools today.

“We realized early on that essential workers would be counting on us to help them with their childcare needs under new safety guidelines and our teachers stepped up to the task,” said Danielle Millman, the Chief Operations Officer at Endeavor Schools. “That experience has given our staff the ability to provide education to more students under the current circumstances and we are grateful for the opportunity to continue serving our communities.”

The Endeavor Schools Learning Labs Program began operations earlier this month at several of the company’s schools in Georgia, Florida, Ohio, Minnesota, and Texas. In September, the program will be offered at schools in Nevada, Oregon, and California, and potentially other markets.

For more information on this program, please visit: https://www.endeavorschools.com/learning-lab-programs/

Using Outdoor Learning to Maintain a Montessori Environment and Safe Classroom

With our new safety practices to ensure the health and well-being of our staff and students, maintaining a nurturing Montessori environment has created new challenges for our Montessori guides. But these new challenges have given way to new opportunities, such as embracing outdoor learning.

Kinderhouse Montessori in San Diego, CA is one of several Montessori schools in the Endeavor Schools family that has increased use of its outdoor spaces to utilize the natural fresh air and sunshine. Although Endeavor Schools has high-quality HVAC systems in each of its schools, the use of outdoor spaces can make it easier to do activities that enable social distancing. In addition, Kinderhouse’s Jing Zhu says her children experience a calming and stabilizing effect, which can be conducive for concentration and learning.

“The outdoor environment provides children with more natural and milder stimulation in a way the children probably won’t be over or under-stimulated,” Zhu said. “Children just love to be outside. Most of my toddlers are exhilarated when it is the time to be out.”

Outdoor learning is not a novel idea when it comes to a Montessori setting. In fact, Dr. Maria Montessori advocated for outdoor learning during the course of her research.

In The Discovery of the Child, Montessori wrote: “Let the children be free; encourage them; let them run outside when it is raining; let them remove their shoes when they find a puddle of water; and, when the grass of the meadows is damp with dew, let them run on it and trample it with their bare feet; let them rest peacefully when a tree invites them to sleep beneath its shade; let them shout and laugh when the sun wakes them in the morning as it wakes every living creature that divides its day between waking and sleeping.”

Dr. Amy Brereton, the Vice President of Academics at Endeavor Schools, said outdoor learning activities have been implemented throughout the Endeavor Schools network.

“We promote guided explorations in the natural world whenever possible,” Brereton said. “These explorations may be aimed at learning specific science content, such as plant and animal biology, geology, habitats, astronomy, physics, etc. Also, explorations could have more to do with geography (cartography, terrain, hydrology etc.) or sociology (animal social behaviors, outdoor occupations, community planning etc.).

Tinkering outdoors to learn STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) is another way Endeavor Schools utilizes the outdoors for learning.

“Tinkering involves providing children with a variety of loose part materials that they can use to build endless creations,” Brereton said. “Children have used planks and tubes to make ramps and pathways for balls or trucks (physics, engineering); cardboard or boards to make buildings (engineering, math); ropes, tarps and poles to make tents (engineering, math); and a variety of materials to craft simple machines (technology, math, engineering).”

She adds: “Most children do not consider their creations to be complete until they have taken the time to decorate them (art). These types of projects are well suited for the outdoors because the open space makes large scale creation possible.”

There are also the many benefits of unstructured outdoor activity outdoors, which gives children a chance to rest their minds and process all the material they have been soaking up in school and life.

“While schools across the country are choosing to shorten or eliminate recess, we are choosing to offer children more unstructured time outdoors,” Brereton said. “When children’s brains are working hard to master content, they need breaks. These breaks offer the brain time to file information.”

Pedagogists have done a great deal of research on the benefits of recess. These include increased focus; fewer behavioral issues; improved cognitive function; increased social and emotional growth; and improved physical health, such as stronger immune systems.

“A strong Montessori program supports children’s unstructured engagement with the outdoor environment in the form of recess or ‘brain breaks,’” Brereton said. “The younger the child, the more often they need such breaks.”

Recess is vital for the mental, as well as physical health, in a Montessori setting, according to Lee Lanou, the Director of Montessori Education at Endeavor Schools.

“Dr. Montessori knew, and research confirms, that movement is essential for the growth of a child’s intelligence,” Lanou said. “Movement in nature not only strengthens their muscles but also aids in the development of auditory discrimination, visual cues for depth perception, balance, coordination, agility, and it offers a rich variety of sensory stimuli for the young child’s absorbent mind.”

And most importantly, children experience more joy and happiness throughout the day then they have time outdoors.

When describing her children learning outside on a recent beautiful San Diego day at Kinderhouse Montessori, Zhu said: “Their faces are just glowing, their eyes are shining, and I feel like we are in love with the playground and each other.”

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Anti-Bias Resources for the Endeavor Family

In the midst of two pandemics, COVID-19 and systematic racism, we need to ask what changes we are capable of making to bring about the world we want, and our children deserve. Below is a list of guidelines that we use to promote equality and tolerance in our schools.

One of the most powerful ways that we can support children’s appreciation of diversity and respect for differences is to walk the walk.

Many of us lead segregated lives without even being aware of it. Children as young as 6 months of age are aware of racial differences. Professor Kang Lee from the University of Toronto says that lack of exposure to racial diversity may cause racial bias in infants. Do you and your children have the opportunity to engage with a diverse group of friends and professionals in your community? Does the literature in your home include a diverse representation of experts, heroes and characters? Building book collections that celebrate diversity can be challenging due to the centuries of racial and gender inequality that have resulted in there being a lot more white and male protagonists in children’s literature than any other demographic. This said, there are so many new and wonderful books coming out (a list of titles can be found below). You can take inventory of the books in your home and seek to get a healthy balance of representation.

Talk about differences.

A child is never too young to talk about racial differences. Because many of us feel uncomfortable talking about race we opt to be ‘color silent’. In the absence of helpful conversations about race with trusting adults, children develop their own theories based on images and experiences that may be unhelpful. Instead, talk about race. Help children to understand why people look different and affirm the beauty and power of all races.

While children of any age can engage in conversations about racism, the conversation should be age appropriate.

Young children are very concrete in their processing of information. Talk about behavior that is hurtful versus helpful and do not give them more details or information than they
can handle. Concepts like murder are difficult for young children to understand, but they do understand the notion of ‘hurting someone’s body’ and doing and saying things that lead to sad and angry feelings. Older preschoolers and elementary age children are keenly aware of the bad feeling of something being unfair. Upper elementary children and adolescents are ready to deeply discuss the concepts of justice, equity and civil disobedience. All children, especially young children, need examples of what TO DO not just what not to do. Beverly Daniel Tatum encourages us to highlight the allies and resistors who confront racism.

Respond to incidents of prejudice by focusing on feelings and pushing back against stereotypes.

Incidents of prejudice can be powerful learning opportunities for children, including children who may be perpetuating stereotypes. Start by comforting the target of the bias, encouraging them to name their emotions. Then, reject the stereotype by offering counter examples (i.e. superheroes, princesses, Jedi, presidents and wizards can be people of any race).

The goal is for the children to develop their own sense of appreciation of diversity, to develop helpful strategies to advocate for others, to identify and speak against the hurting, belittling or marginalizing of others and seek to consistently strive to be aware of and confront their own biases.

A few links are offered below as resources in our quest to continue to educate our children, students, and ourselves and stand up for equity and social justice.

Resources for Talking about Race, Racism, and Racialized Violence with Kids: This document was compiled by the Center for Racial Justice in Education
Anti-racism Resources for White People: a large compilation of resources for white people and parents to deepen their work in anti-racism.
Teaching Tolerance: Teaching about race, racism, and police violence. Includes classroom resources such as: lessons, learning plans, tasks for children by grade level, teaching strategies, posters, readings, and films.
How You Can Be an Ally in the Fight for Social Justice: Activist DeRay Mckesson explains how we can all show up and stand up.
Social Justice Standards (K-12), Age-appropriate learning outcomes are divided into four domains: Identity, Diversity, Justice, and Action. Free to download the Standards.
JenCort.com: Jen Cort is a dynamic school consultant who “invites the elephants in the room to tea.” She works with teachers, school leaders, and students and focuses on diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice. (Blog, podcast, workshops, school consultations)
Anti-Bias Education Booklists: Selection of multi-cultural and social justice books for children, young adults, and educators
Guide for Selecting Anti-Bias Children’s Books: from Teaching for Change – Building Social Justice Starting in the Classroom
• Instagram @theconsciouskid

Resources for Educators of Young Children (birth through 3rd grade)

NAEYC Resources: Resources from the National Association for the Education of Young Children
Anti-Bias Education for Young Children and Ourselves book – excellent resource for Early Childhood educators
Interacting with Children and Youth on Issues of Diversity and Bias: The first few pages of this PDF from the Partnership Against Hate address how children develop attitudes about race in the first few years of life
Coping with Violence: Compilation of online resources for parents, teachers, and others working with young children.
Protecting Children from Extreme Screen Violence: Blog post about protecting children from screen violence
Becoming Upended: Teaching and Learning about Race and Racism with Young Children and Their Families: NAEYC article

Resources for Educators of 4th through 12th graders

Helping Students Make Sense of News Stories about Bias and Injustice: Resources from the Anti-Defamation League
Interacting with Children and Youth on Issues of Diversity and Bias: Great instructional PDF from the Partnership Against Hate
Array Now: Started by Ava DuVernay, director of Now They See Us, this is a compilation of African American independent films-an array of stories and voices.
A Collection of Resources for Teaching Social Justice: from Cult Pedagogy

Race-Equity Books for Toddler – High School

Toddler/Early Elementary (Baby-Pre-K-2nd Grade):

• A is for Activism by Innosanto Nagara
• Woke Baby by Mahogany L. Browne and Theodore Taylor III
• Counting on Community by Innosanto Nagara
• Brick by Brick by Giuliano Ferry
• Nursery Rhymes for Social Good: Alternative Poems for Future Activists by Holly
Elizabeth Olsen and Elie Galih
• An ABC of Equality by Chana Ginelle Ewing and Paulina Morgan
• Skin Again by Bell Hooks
• Shades of People by Shelley Rotner
• The Skin I’m In: A First Look at Racism by Pat Thomas
• The Colors of Us by Karen Katz
• The Skin You Live in by Michael Tyler
• We’re Different, We’re the Same by Bobbi Kates
• All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold
• Skin Like Mine by LaTishia M. Perry
• Antiracist Baby by Ibram X. Kendi
• Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena
• I am Enough by Grace Beyers
• I Believe I can by Grace Beyers
• Hey, Black Child! by Useni Eugene Perkins
• The Undefeated (Caldecott Medal Book) by Kwame Alexander
• Teach Your Dragon About Diversity: Train Your Dragon To Respect Diversity by
Steve Herman
• Hands Up! By Breana J. McDaniel
• Can I Touch Your Hair?: Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship by Irene Latham
• A Kid’s Book About Racism by Jelani Memory
• Let the Children March by Monica Clark Robinson
• Separate is Never Equal by Duncan Tonatiuh
Elementary- (3rd Grade-5th Grade)
Nonfiction
• Let’s Talk About Race by Julius Lester
• Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness (Ordinary Terrible Things) by Anastasia
Higginbotham
• Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story About Racial Injustice by
Marianne Celano, PHD
• Our Future: How Kids Are Taking Action (How Kids Are Making a Difference) by
Janet Wilson
• We Are the Change: Words of Inspiration from Civil Rights Leaders (Books for Kid
Activists, Activism Book for Children) by Harry Belafonte
• Teach Your Dragon About Diversity: Train Your Dragon To Respect Diversity by
Steve Herman
• How to Make a Better World: For Every Kid Who Wants to Make a Difference by
Keilly Swift
• Kid Activists: True Tales of Childhood from Champions of Change (Kid
Legends) by Robin Stevenson and Allison Steinfeild
• I Know My Rights: A Children’s Guide to the Bill of Rights and Individual
Liberty by Rory Margraf
• Marley Dias Gets It Done: And So Can You! by Marley Dias
• Civil Rights Then and Now: A Timeline of the Fight for Equality in America by
Kristina Brooke Daniele
• When a Bully is a President: Truth and Creativity for Oppressive Times by Maya
Gonzalez
• The Power Book: What is it? Who Has it? And Why? By Claire Saunders

Fiction

• Watson’s Go to Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis
• Ghost Boy by Jewell Parker Rhodes
• For Black Girls Like Me by Mariama Lockington
• Clean Getaway by Nic Stone
• A Good Kind of Trouble by Lisa Moore Ramee
• Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood

Older Kids (Middle School-High School)

Fiction

• Watson’s Go to Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis
• Monster by Walter Dean Meyers
• The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
• Ghost Boy by Jewell Parker Rhodes
• Watch Us Rise by Renee Watson and Ellen Hagan
• Dear Martin by Nic Stone
• Clean Getaway by Nic Stone
• A Good Kind of Trouble by Lisa Moore Ramee
• Betty Before X by Ilyasah Shabazz and Renee Watson
• Count Me In by Varsha Bajaj
• Crow by Barbara Wright
• Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine
• All American Boys by Jason Reynolds
• How it Went Down by Kekla Magoon
• I’m Not Dying with You Tonight by Gilly Segal and Kimberly Jones

Non Fiction

• Tell Me Who You Are by Winona Guo and Priya Vulchi
• Racial Profiling: Everyday Inequality by
• Rise Up: Ordinary Kids with Extraordinary Stories by Amanda Li
• Young Revolutionary: A Teen’s Guide to Activism by Chanice Lee
• This Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do The
Work by Tiffany Jewell
• We Are the Change: Words of Inspiration from Civil Rights Leaders (Books for Kid
Activists, Activism Book for Children) by Harry Belafonte
• Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America by Ibi Zoboi, Tracey
Baptiste, et al.
• How I Resist: Activism and Hope for a New Generation by Maureen Johnson
• Girl Rising: Changing the World One Girl at a Time by Tanya Lee Stone
• You Are Mighty: A Guide to Changing the World by Caroline Paul
• Girls Resist!: A Guide to Activism, Leadership, and Starting a Revolution by
KaeLyn Rich
• Marley Dias Gets It Done: And So Can You! by Marley Dias
• Open Mic: Riffs on Life Between Cultures in Ten Voices Edited by Mitali Perkins

Graphic Novels

• March (Trilogy Slipcase Set) by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin
• New Kid by Jerry Craft
• I Am Alfonso Jones by Tony Medina
• Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans by Don Brown

After Growing Up Watching Children’s Television Shows, Endeavor Schools Teachers Now Make Their Own

 

Teachers across the Endeavor Schools network are creating dozens of videos each day to provide high-quality educational content for children doing remote learning. As our teachers engage with students online through live streams and pre-recorded videos, many of them have been thinking about the shows they watched as children, such as Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood and Sesame Street, when making their own videos.

When people started wearing masks on a regular basis to help stop the spread of coronavirus, Erin McFarland, a teacher at Step by Step Montessori in Edina, Minnesota, was worried her students would be confused and frightened by the rapid changes happening around them. And as a lifelong fan of Mr. Rogers, she decided to channel the legendary children’s television host and explain to them honestly and carefully about the importance of the masks and that they have no reason to fear them.

Sitting by herself at her school on a Sunday afternoon in early April, Erin turned on her camera, put on her mask, and, in a calm and clear voice, showed that the masks were not to be feared.

“See my eyes? I’m smiling behind the mask,” Erin says in the video.

Since creating that video, Erin, who is a Montessorian and brand-new to the world of remote learning, has since made dozens more videos for her students. Each time she makes them, she tries to incorporate what she liked about the man who created one of the most iconic children’s television shows in American history.

“I was one of those people who was raised on Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood,” Erin said. “Mr. Rogers just has this calmness about him. And he uses routine on his show, such as singing the song, changing into the cardigan, changing his shoes, and so on. Kids really love repetition, routine, and normalcy. So, incorporating that, as well as his laid-back demeanor, is something I’m trying to do.”

Recreating the Classroom Experience

Aiden Huckestein, a teacher at Creative Child Learning Center in Tallahassee, Florida, said watching Sesame Street as a child has influenced the videos she is making today.

“You can almost see the passion and excitement of what they’re talking about on Sesame Street and that can make kids feel the same way, which makes them more excited to learn,” Aiden said.

In addition to captivating a child’s attention, Huckestein said she learned a great deal about timing and interaction techniques from watching various children’s television shows. Like many teachers, she had not made videos for remote learning before the coronavirus pandemic. Watching children’s television shows helped her understand techniques like making eye contact and pausing briefly after asking a question to allow children to process and answer so they can participate in the lesson.

“Seeing how they did these little things enabled me to grasp those techniques quicker and improve my videos,” Huckestein said. “You try to recreate as much as possible the classroom experience and these are things you would do in person.”

Recreating the classroom experience is a top goal for Endeavor Schools teachers.

When Beth Hughes, a toddler teacher Prep Academy in Dublin, Ohio, was told that she must create multiple educational videos each day, she was not sure her technological skills were up to task.

“I don’t even really take selfies,” Hughes said with a laugh.

Nonetheless, she adapted quickly and was soon making several videos per day, including editing out mistakes. But by editing out mistakes, Hughes realized she was depriving students of an important life lesson: It is okay to make mistakes sometimes.

Learning to Solve Problems

“We all make mistakes. But if children don’t ever see teachers make mistakes, they will see their own mistakes as a big problem, rather than something they can resolve,” Hughes said.

In one video where Hughes gave a counting lesson using grapes, the round fruits would slightly roll of when she lifted the surface she was working on for the camera. But instead of discarding the video, Hughes use the opportunity to show students that all you had to do was put the grapes back where they belong and you still had the correct number in the appropriate slots.

“When I’m in a classroom, I can’t hide when I make a mistake. And when I do, children can see me fix it and find a solution. So why shouldn’t I do that while presenting a video?”

Hughes said her mother was careful not to let her children watch just anything on television. In fact, just about the only show she could watch as a small child was Mr. Rogers, who won her mother’s approval because of the slow, methodical approach he demonstrated on television.

Turns out, that’s something Hughes has striven for in her videos, as well, because working through and solving problems is a skill that she wants her students to develop.

“Looking, observing, and trying are things Mr. Rogers would do on his show in a way that let children process and understand new ideas,” Hughes said. “Making mistakes and learning how to work our way through is part of growing up for a child.”

In some ways, early children’s education shows like Mr. Rogers and Sesame Street were the pioneers of remote learning. And today’s children are being taught by teachers who grew up watching the first shows that provided children’s education via video.

However, a major difference is that Endeavor Schools teachers know their students personally and are providing new content each day and maintaining a special bond that will continue as soon as children can come back to the classroom.

“Having personal videos from the teachers is really beneficial and it extends the relationship,” said McFarland. “We are continuing our friendship over video.”

Helping Children Feel Connected to Classmates During Remote Learning

On a recent Monday morning at Carpe Diem Preschool in Southlake, Texas, parents came by with their children to pick up remote learning packets as children inside the school stood by a window and held signs that said, “Hello” and “We miss you.”

The children holding the signs were still attending school because their parents are essential workers. They hadn’t seen their fellow classmates in person for weeks because so many are doing remote learning and teachers wanted children to see each other and share a moment of happiness with them – a rare occurrence in this time of social distance due to coronavirus precautions.

“The children had a great time making the signs and it meant a lot to the parents and children outside when they saw them,” said Gerri Kelley, the school leader. “Being able to see each other and smile lets them know that they’re still together, even if they’re temporarily apart.”

As social distance has threatened to wither away bonds and friendships, this small interaction meant a great deal to the children on both sides of the window. That’s why our teachers throughout the Endeavor Schools family have been creating ways to keep children connected and ensure that their friendships stay intact.

Across the country at more than 50 schools within the Endeavor Schools family, teachers are coming up with a variety of creative ways to keep children connected to each other.

At Endeavor Montessori, an infant through upper elementary school in Dunwoody, Georgia, all students are learning at home. To create a sense of community, teachers created a yearbook for the students and sent it as a pdf to their parents. They also wrote the names of every student on paper hearts and taped them to the glass window of the school.

School Leader Sue Hansen said her staff wanted to see the students to see each other in the yearbook and later come by the school to see their names with others in the same window.

“We truly miss our children here at Endeavor Montessori even though we see them in the virtual classrooms and we know they miss each other very much,” Hansen said. “They say ‘hi’ to each other online but we know they want nothing more than to be at school. They all love learning the Montessori way, which is relationship teaching at its finest.”

At Silverlake Montessori in Cypress, Texas, teachers are engaging children at home in fun group activities online to mimic the feel of being inside their classroom.

During a recent remote classroom session, Silverline School Leader Nikki Handy had children “freeze dance,” a game in which children dance as music is played and then stop when the music is turned off. Haley acted as DJ, playing songs like The Gummy Bear Song and Shake it Off, and children danced away as they saw their friends on screen doing the same.

“Children were so thrilled to see their friends dancing on screen and they were able to participate to an unexpected level,” Haley said.

Even the Pledge of Allegiance has been made a part of the remote learning program at Silverline. Montessori School.

Students in school and at home each get a turn at being the designated “flag holder” as they hold up their homemade flags on screen as the rest of the children say the pledge in unison.

In addition to making children feel connected, Haley says these group activities help sharpen children’s active listening skills.

“The teachers are constantly looking for more ways to make the experience of remote learning more interactive,” Haley said.

As children at Endeavor Schools are staying connected, their parents have shown great appreciation for our teachers’ efforts.

“Though we are dealing with some very crazy times, I am so very blessed to have you all in my family’s life,” one parent recently wrote to the Carpe Diem staff in Southlake, Texas. “We hope our son is able to continue with Carpe Diem until he is too old to be there.”

At Endeavor Schools, we are doing all we can to make sure children receive a joyful education, whether they’re at home or in the classroom.

Endeavor Schools Stay Open to Serve Communities and Essential Workers

A student at Step by Step Montessori School in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota reads a book.

Many of our schools are staying open to provide childcare and education to families in their communities, including children of essential workers.

By adhering to strict company sanitation protocols, health and safety best practices, and following the CDC guidelines for schools, we are providing a safe and much-needed service to families across the country.

“I think it’s a great thing that we are able to stay open for those families,” said Amy Hill, the School Leader at Step by Step Montessori School in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. “Parents know that we are here for their families and they’ve just been so appreciative and glad for that.”

In Minnesota, just like in many other states, many schools have been shut down and people are urged to stay at home. However, essential workers, including healthcare and food retail employees, must go into work and need a place to bring their children.

At Silverline Montessori School in Pearland, Texas, about half of the children’s parents are essential workers and the school has stayed open to take care of those families.

“I just think it’s wonderful that we’re able to do this,” Silverline School Leader Teresa Conn said. “It gives me have a sense of pride. There are people who really need all day childcare to take care of what they need to do and it’s truly great that we can help them.”

Keeping Schools Safe

Endeavor Schools has been at the forefront of school safety since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Danielle Millman, our Chief Operations Officer, has been in regular contact with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as state health agencies, to ensure each of our schools are following all state and federal guidelines.

“She has made sure we are provided all the services and information we need to protect our children and remain open,” Conn said.

This includes an array of procedures, including having school facilities thoroughly and professionally cleaned and sanitized each day, using electrostatic disinfecting, performing health screens and temperature checks  of each staff and student before they enter the building, and not allowing parents or any visitors inside, to name just a few.

Despite the extra measures, parents have been happy to know that their child’s safety is a priority at Endeavor Schools.

“Families are super appreciative of all the precautions we are taking,” said Chloe Murillos, the co-School Leader at Carpe Diem Preschool in Richardson, Texas. “And they’ve never once wavered in their trust of us. Even though they can’t come inside the building to see their child, they always know their child is being well taken care of.” 

Giving Children and Families a Sense of Community

Although many children are learning at home instead of the classroom, our schools are committed to maintaining children’s sense of community by keeping them in contact with their classmates.

In addition to keeping in regular contact with families about lesson plans and learning at home activities, our schools look for other ways to help children and families feel a sense of togetherness.

At Step By Step in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, children learning at home sent their teachers photos of themselves to be put on the classroom wall so children going to school can see them every day.

“We’re making sure to keep the children connected,” Hill said.

Our families have also taken it upon themselves to stay connected.

At Carpe Diem Preschool in Richardson, Texas, parents formed a group that provides a pizza lunch for the children every Monday.

“That’s parents supporting parents,” Murillos said.

These are difficult times, but at Endeavor Schools, our teachers are working hard to make sure that children have a safe space to be and learn.

“Every morning, our kids walk into their classroom with a smile on their face and they see a teacher smiling back,” Murillos said. “We’re dedicated to do whatever it takes to provide a service to our families and our community.”

How Endeavor Schools Quickly Created Virtual Classrooms for Thousands of Children

The coronavirus has forced millions of children around the country into an at-home, virtual learning environment. Under the guidance of its education experts, Endeavor Schools is offering students a rich and varied at-home curriculum, live and recorded online classes, and regularly scheduled one-on-one sessions with teachers for students and parents.

“Our goal is to do everything we can to create an effective, at-home learning environment that continues and advances the high-quality education students were receiving before the coronavirus school closures,” said Dr. Amy Brereton, the Vice President of Academics at Endeavor Schools.

Teachers across the Endeavor School network, which includes 53 schools in 12 states, are creating videos and hosting livestreams for student lessons. They create weekly lesson plans and follow-up with students and teachers throughout the week for personal instruction, work review, or just to answer questions students or teachers have.

In addition, teachers are also coordinating social time on Zoom so children can talk with their classmates, have a snack or eat lunch with each other. This offers children social time they might not get otherwise due to social distancing.

Unlike education at high school level and above, early childhood education isn’t commonly taught online. However, Endeavor Schools’ teachers and academic leaders have led a company-wide effort to create virtual classrooms that are effective and engaging for young children.

This effort includes the rapid creation of high-quality lesson plans, videos, and technical support for teachers to conduct online instruction. In addition, new schedules for lessons, weekly online parent-teacher conferences, as well as one-on-one instruction for students have all been created on short notice to ensure children do not miss out on their education.

One reason Endeavor Schools has been able to make the transition so quickly and effectively is because its teachers know their students well and understand what would be needed to transition to an at-home learning situation.

“It is truly remarkable that none of our teachers were trained to teach remotely, but when you love children, know them well, and understand their developmental needs, you can create something really beautiful that supports children in just the way they need,” said Lee Lanou, the Director of Montessori Education at Endeavor Schools.

Maintaining a Montessori Experience in a Virtual Classroom

Teachers at Foothills Montessori School in Henderson, Nevada greet children during an online class.

Montessori instruction normally relies on a hands-on, collaborative educational environment with limited screen time, which is difficult to maintain under the coronavirus circumstances. However, Endeavor Schools’ Montessori teachers have adjusted.

“We’re doing the best we can, and teachers are finding creative ways to make it fun,” said Karen Kolb and Kim Gallagher, the school leaders at Foothills Montessori School, where they serve 3 year olds through 8th graders in Henderson, Nevada.

One way to do that is by combining hands-on instruction with a virtual classroom.

Before schools closed around the country, Foothills Montessori School’s middle school class was supposed to dissect cow eyeballs to learn about anatomy and the nervous system. But instead of ditching the dissection, one Foothills Montessori School teacher sent the eyeballs to each student and conducted the dissection class online in real time. Students followed along and dissected at home.

Although a virtual classroom might normally go against Montessori ideals, the current situation might accommodate an important Montessori ideal, which is teaching children independence. Whether it’s a 3-year-old preparing a small meal for themselves or a 7th grader sticking to a strict study schedule without having to be reminded to do so, children are taking more responsibility for their education and, as a result, becoming more independent.

“Some parents have told me, ‘Oh my gosh. I can actually see my child becoming more independent by the day,’” Kolb said.

Supporting Parents and Educating Children

A teacher at Foothills Montessori talks to her students via video conferencing.

Many parents are experiencing additional stress in their lives due to the extra burdens caused by the coronavirus pandemic. That’s why Endeavor Schools is working to help alleviate some of that stress by providing a full-time education for children with a support network available for parents who have any questions about helping their child learn at home.

Teachers at Foothills Montessori School, and other schools within the Endeavor School family, make sure to maintain lines of communication with parents by scheduling conferences via Zoom, Facetime, or just over the phone. Kolb says one of the keys here is to be proactive and reach out to parents whenever possible to ensure that they know support is available and their children’s teachers are still there to help.

“We’re making sure we can make their life easier,” Kolb said.

Lee Lanou, the Director of Montessori Education at Endeavor Schools, points out that teachers are also doing what they can to prevent parents from feeling overwhelmed because that can add stress to children’s lives, too.

“This is a time of huge stresses for parents and children pick up on that,” Lanou said. “The last thing that we want to do is to add more stress on them during this time. We offer them a loose schedule that mimics what the child’s day might be like at school and offer them activities they can do within the course of a week. We encourage free play time and independent exploration for learning, as well.”

“Lots of self-care is important,” Kolb added. “Putting things and tasks on the list like taking a walk, getting outdoors, taking brain breaks. Both adults and children need them.”

“I think it’s important to remember that this is a health crisis, not an educational crisis,” Lanou said. “All of us – children, parents, and teachers – have been taken out of our elements. How children feel during this time is what will stick with them. We need to keep that in mind.”