Online learning in full swing
Everyone deserves to learn and move forward, and so Rainier Prep is online for the foreseeable future. Upon hearing about school closures, we knew that we wouldn’t be able to replicate the day-to-day of Rainier Prep, but we shifted quickly from thinking of work packets to figuring out how to sustain quality learning opportunities throughout this critical time in our students’ academic journeys. Our staff immediately started to work on structured, meaningful online encounters that would make the most of our time together.
Everyone has benefited from advisor-family-student relationships, so connecting with students through advisories came first. To make that happen, friends donated Chromebooks, and Amazon donated Kindles and hotspots — all to bring as many families online as we could. We were determined to build trust in the middle of anxiety and fear, and learn through “unprecedented” times.
Rainier Prep’s community has demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to equity year after year, closing an academic achievement gap for students experiencing many barriers to getting to where both they and their families want to be. We will always strive to ensure that they’re able to get there, and we don’t take the commitment we’ve made to our families, to our stakeholders, and to ourselves lightly. We worry about how our current situations will create even greater social and economic inequities. So many of us have very real concerns about paying bills, providing child care, and managing our part in promoting public health. However, because of who we are and where we come from, we don’t have to look far to find hope and resilience in the face of adversity. We know that our struggles also manifest our community’s agency, power, and choice.
There is so much “known unknown” to discover about the resources, resilience, and strength of our families and community — especially the ESSENTIAL workers among us who keep our extended community alive, healthy, and empowered. Caregivers may now have more time together as families. Others are risking their health to bring food from farm to store to table, along with truck drivers, janitors, health care workers, grocery store workers, electricians, Metro drivers, telecom workers, volunteers, solid neighbors, and the many others whose daily commitment won’t be easily overlooked anymore. You have the deepest gratitude from all of us. Rainier Prep has a lot to give to families, but we have always known that we have so much to receive and to learn as well.
As more people “visibilize” the essential work of our common society, we are striving to make the what, the how, and the why we learn not just available, but vital. Our advisories are grounded with and grounding each other — and we all can reinvigorate connections to the groups who ground us. Our vibrant community is discovering our future through off-campus / online learning — we all can find new ways to sustain lifelong learning, regardless of where we come from. Just as our values have always grounded us in considerations of equity, we have yet another opportunity to reflect on the deep value that each individual has.
We have this time to understand the real connections of our work and life more deeply. We have this time to re-discover, re-imagine, and even re-invent our common humanity. As we have before, Rainier Prep will meet another challenge as a community — and thrive together.
Maggie O’Sullivan is Rainier Prep’s School Leader. Karen Lobos is Rainier Prep’s Director of Operations.