Photo cutline: Tallassee Elementary School 1st grader Jeremiah Zellers communicates with his teacher, Mr. Mark Griggs, and classmates via Zoom.

When it comes to transitioning from traditional learning to a digital platform, the students in grades kindergarten through third grade are not yet as tech-savvy as students in middle and high schools. However, thanks to the staff at Tallassee Elementary School, that transition was easy-going.

"Tallassee Elementary School's transition to virtual and nontraditional classrooms has

been an overall smooth process for students and teachers," TES principal Shanikka Beacher said.

Even though the school's campus is closed, teachers and staff members are working hard to keep students engaged.

"Although teachers are not on campus, they are actively planning and developing lessons to provide instruction," Beacher said. "Teachers have created awesome activities to address critical standards identified by the Alabama State Department of Education."

As homes around the country are converted into classrooms, teachers at TES are aiding families during this transitional learning period.

"Students and parents are provided online instructional videos and resources that can be accessed on the school's website," Beacher said. "Zoom video conference sessions are being offered to remain connected with students as well as to review instructional content. Also, non-content departments such as the counselor, library media, physical education, art, computer and (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) are providing resources."

This is an uncertain time for everyone and can bring about many emotions, especially for children. The school's counselors found a way to remain available to TES students throughout the coronavirus health pandemic. 

"Our school counselor continues to offer counseling services through virtual Zoom sessions,” Beacher said. “In order for students to understand the variety of emotions and responses they are feeling, counseling services are offered virtually.”

School is a constant in a student's life and is a valuable source of encouragement for students, and Beacher said that is something TES strives to maintain while keeping students engaged by using innovative technology.

"We want to remain a source of support and encouragement," she said. "As a way to promote a desire to read, our school librarian has ensured students are utilizing our MyON Reader virtual platform. Within this personalized literacy environment, our students have access to more than 6,000 enhanced digital books. When reviewing our MyON online summary usage report for last week, a total of 11,000 minutes were read. With this being the initial implementation year of this online platform, I am proud of our students' dedication in continuing to find joy in reading whether it is having a tangible book or E-book."

TES has also found a way to keep students engaged in physical activity.

"The physical education department has promoted GoNoodle," Beacher said. "This digital resource is used to provide a range of activities to support students in their efforts to help keep kids physically and mentally active every day."

STEM is an important component to learning at TES, and those skills have also been implemented in the recent learning transitions.

"To keep students involved in the area of arts education, online crafts are being offered as well,” Beacher said. “Keyboarding and coding skills as an online resource are being used to ensure students remain abreast in the areas of computer and STEM.”

Not every student has access to the internet but TES made options available for those students.

"In addition to addressing these areas through a virtual environment, Tallassee Elementary has offered two dates for parents to pick up a curriculum packet,” Beacher said. “During curriculum packet pickup, parents are provided with the paper format of the virtual component.

This uncertain time is new to everyone but Beacher said she remains optimistic about the future.

"During this unprecedented time, students, parents, faculty and staff are committed to making the best of our new learning environment,” Beacher said. “We are Tallassee and we are in this together.”