Despite tornado and COVID-19, Walnut Hill Elementary continues positively impacting students every day

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For the students, teachers and staff of Walnut Hill Elementary School, picking themselves up after facing adversity is not just the right thing to do, it is a matter of pride. Even after a tornado and a pandemic forced them to adapt to three classroom settings this year, the Walnut Hill community has risen to the occasion to support student achievement.

“Our teachers are strong, positive, creative, and innovative,” Principal Phillip Potter said. “They continuously strive to make a difference for our students every day.”

After the school closures due to the spread of COVID-19, Walnut Hill teachers designed and launched their own distance learning platform, a new website to adapt the district’s curriculum, support learning and instruction, and communicate with students and parents. On this website, accessible at the link below, families can also find resources for counseling, special education, health services and more.

“The main goal is to provide additional resources for students at home that have been curated by our teachers,” Potter said. “But it also allows our students and parents to contact their teachers via phone, Zoom, and email, to keep in touch and ask any questions they may have.”

At-home learning in action at Walnut Hill Elementary School.

Using this new platform and videoconferencing tools, teachers have been able to remain an instrumental part of their students’ lives. Despite remaining distanced, students receive individual feedback on their studies and are also able to continue participating in school clubs and other extracurricular activities.

“Kids really want to see each other and us and have fun. Something we recently did was having a talent show, and it was really fun to see them prepare their talent to share with the class,” said Alejandra Ramos, a first- and second-grade dual language teacher.

“If students are struggling with something, they can get hold of me right away,” said Liza Sanders, a fifth-grade teacher. “It is really incredible to be able to have one-on-one time with a lot of the students. But we also decided to dedicate time twice a week to meet with all of them to make sure we are all doing well.”

Keeping the lines of communication open binds students, teachers and staff in a sense of togetherness and solidarity to build a new school together. It’s part of a shared school spirit that says, “We are Walnut Hill, and we can do it!”

Walnut Hill families can access the website here.

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