(BIVN) – Waimea Middle Public Conversion Charter School has found “an innovative way to connect teachers with students and families and keep the learning happening”, during the COVID-19 pandemic that forced the closure of schools in Hawaiʻi and a shift to distance learning.
Waimea Middle School is showcasing its solution: Kokua Kits. School officials say school ‘ohana pooled resources from community partners, teachers and staff to deliver the kits, and recently recorded video of the process to share with a news release. The news release explains:
Since the March 30 start of a first-ever distance learning 4th Quarter, Waimea Middle School staff have delivered a Kokua Kit weekly to every one of its 265 students. In all, more than 2,000 kits have been assembled and delivered to homes scattered across the 14+-mile wide district.
Kokua Kits started out small – a snack and essential paperwork. They improved with time to include age-appropriate books of fiction, seeds, ‘uala slips to plant with instructions, used Chromebooks when needed, and something delicious harvested from Mala’ai School Garden including avocados, loquats and herbs for tea. In lieu of May Day festivities – which are a nearly 100-year Waimea tradition – ribbon lei-making kits were created so students could make a lei for a loved one. And always what students came to count on was a yummy snack from a local vendor.
Delivering the kits became the thing to do for teachers and staff, of course always wearing a mask and maintaining social distances. Teachers and staff took turns just to see students wave and get excited to see people they miss as their kit is delivered.
Kokua Kits have become “the connecting agent.” With more than 2,000 kits prepared and delivered over the past eight weeks, teachers have seen an increase or steady number of students logging in to Google Classroom, reading and completing assignments – even though it’s all voluntary. Also, families have expressed gratitude for the caring they feel, and for the food and enrichment support.
“We care about our kids and families and it’s our kuleana to be a community resource. We are here for our kids now, next year and beyond high school – in good times and bad. It’s just who we are,” said WMS Principal Janice English.