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Model City Head Start educators model virtual learning on national level

Published: Aug. 16, 2021 at 8:49 PM EDT
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PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) - Teachers at Model City Head Start, like most other teachers across the world, had to find new ways to teach as the pandemic took them virtual last year. And those efforts are now being recognized nationally, shining a light on their work as the students return in-person this week.

According to Big Sandy Area Community Action Program (BSACAP) Grant Writer Sarah Hill, Model City, under the BSACAP umbrella, hires teachers who are devoted to educating the kids of Pike County.

“You have to find people who are going to go above and beyond. And certainly, that’s what the pandemic called for,” Hill said.

Sarah Ray, a Head Start Teacher, used her classroom theme “Pete the Cat” to reach students virtually, creating a video in which she acted out one of the books her students were reading.

“You have to get down on their level and pretend like you’re a child,” said Ray. “Do what you think would entertain you at three, four, five years old.””

The video incorporated a homemade Pete the Cat look, incorporating Play Dough lids and felt, as “Pete” walked through a few different pairs of shoes to show the different colors the students were working with.

In the classroom next door, the teacher’s helper took the same approach. Mercedes Burke used splicing techniques to transition videos, jumping in one scene and landing in another.

“One second, they would be in their classroom and then the next, she would jump and she would be like outside on the playground or something. So that was very entertaining to them. Just to wonder, where is she going next?”

According to program representatives, the educators were first highlighted in a meeting in Atlanta, Ga. when BSACAP Head Start Grantee Director Tracy Jenkins gave an update on the school. From there, the videos made their way to the National Center for Early Childhood Development, Teaching, and Learning, a national Head Start training center.

”Our teachers showed us, ‘Hey, we’re going to do everything we can to get these kids to pay attention to us, continue to learn,’” said Hill.

Ray said she feels blessed to be part of the program and is excited to be back in-person with her students now that classes have resumed this week.

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