New program helps students adjust to COVID-19 learning
Last updated 3/9/2021 at 1:56pm
A new tutoring center, The School House, has been established in Security to help elementary school students with education changes brought on by COVID-19.
Located at 1729 Crest Place, The School House is owned by Sarah Forrest, an educator who also owns Broadmoor Montessori International, a preschool in Colorado Springs. Forrest ended up closing the preschool once the COVID-19 pandemic started.
"When my kids were out of school in the spring, I decided to close that business so I could support my own kids," Forrest explained.
Like all parents, Forrest found it was difficult helping her children adjust to virtual learning, social distancing and all the other new rules. This problem came to a head in September 2020, and she began thinking about ways to help other parents.
"There was a lot of uncertainty about how schools were going to reopen and what reopening would look like," she recalled. "I have my own school-age kids, and when I could see some of the stress that we were facing and the uncertainty of their schedules I thought, 'Gosh, if I'm going through this with my kids, other families are certainly experiencing this.'"
Forrest started developing the project with Jennifer Ochsner, a friend who had done administrative work for a conference that Forrest's family hosts. Ochsner's primary job was at a rock-climbing gym, but she was placed on furlough when COVID-19 hit. Later, Ochsner connected Forrest to Meredith Altemose, a schoolteacher who was learning to navigate the combination of in-classroom and virtual teaching. When Altemose stepped away from her teaching position, she came on staff at The School House.
"We all kind of got together around this idea and thought that we could fill a gap and fill a need," Forrest explained, "and all three of us had professional job shifts because of COVID."
The School House opened Jan. 11, with tutoring sessions five days a week: 10:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday and 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Friday to Saturday. The sessions are built so that students can study individually or with other students in a limited capacity.
"We provide one-one-one tutoring for elementary school kids, and we also have pod groups where students can get group tutoring," Forrest said. "They're pods in the sense that once the group is formed, kids aren't coming in and out of the group. We're trying to keep them somewhat isolated in compliance with the CDC and its recommendations for keeping school groups together."
Altemose serves as the primary teacher, leading the various kinds of sessions. Forrest can help, but since she's not currently licensed for elementary school teaching, she focuses on business operations. Ochsner works as program administrator, performing the day-to-day operation tasks like answering inquiries and managing The School House social media profiles, as well as supporting Altemose when needed.
With health obviously being a big concern at the moment, Forrest and her staff built in policies to keep any chance of COVID-19 infection at a minimum. This includes students being required to wear face coverings at all times, submit to a health check and wash their hands when they come to The School House. Work stations are also set 6 feet apart, and equipment gets cleaned after each student-instructor meeting.
Forrest is particularly hoping that The School House will be a big help to military families, which she knows from firsthand experience have particular needs and challenges.
"I got my start with my Montessori preschool as a military mom, so the military community is definitely a priority for myself and for my family," she said.
To find out more about The School House, go its website (theschoolhouseasc.org) or call 719-208-1569.