At the Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School, things look a little different these days. There are students attending classes in person, while others are learning virtually. Some virtual learners “Zoom in” to the live classroom from home, while others attend an individualized Virtual Academy, in which entire classrooms learn from a BT online teacher through Zoom classes. From PreSchool through High School, there is truly an option for every student that meets the diverse needs of every family, while continuing to nurture the strong connection that each family has to the BT community.
At Beth Tfiloh PreSchool, the in-person classrooms are going about their business with a meaningful addition to their daily routine – the Kesher Program. Kesher kids participate in the live classroom experience through daily Zooms that include all classroom holiday, birthday, and special event celebrations, Kabbalat Shabbat programming, all PreSchool assemblies, and Hebrew language and Judaics three-four times per week. Students and their families are able to stay connected to the school community in a meaningful way by Zooming in throughout the day, so that when they are ready to return, they will already be acclimated to the classroom routines. The Kesher families remain an active part of the PreSchool community despite their physical distance and their experiences thus far have been above and beyond what anyone could have imagined.
Bringing the Classroom Home
In Morah* Lyn Traub and Morah Julie Kitt’s two-year-old classroom, Rebecca L. ‘36 joins her friends for morning meeting and lunch every day through Zoom. Her mother, Heather, is very pleased with the level of engagement her daughter maintains and enthusiastically says, “Rebecca’s teachers have done an amazing job of bringing the classroom into our home through Zoom. Whether it is voting on what to name the class pet, doing yoga poses as part of the morning meeting, virtually joining the class trip to a sukkah, listening to a story, or having lunch ‘with’ a friend, Rebecca is engaged and connected to her teachers, classmates, Judaism and learning.”
Morah Lyn shares that the way the in-person classroom experiences the Kesher program is quite extraordinary, saying, “Our classroom Kesher experience is truly special. Many of our students were with us last year for our February Twos program, so when we transitioned to virtual learning back in March, the families and teachers worked together to figure out what worked best for our students. Our Kesher students are already familiar with our morning meeting routine, and comfortable participating in our day. I think the familiarity helps keep them engaged.”
While Rebecca is Zooming into the two-year-old classroom, her big sister, Emily ‘34, joins her own PreSchool Fours classroom through Zoom with Morah Levey and Morah Leslie. Of this experience, her mother shares, “Emily’s teachers were able to create a fabulous rapport with her immediately. She is very excited about the current class exploration on stones and minerals and her favorite thing so far has been the ‘mystery box’ alphabet guessing game. We are so happy that her teachers have been able to have her participate so fully in the classroom activities.”
Keeping the Beth Tfiloh Community Connected
The Kesher program has not only provided an opportunity for at-home PreSchool students to remain an active part of the live classroom experience, but it has also nurtured the relationships these youngest students have with each other and with the school community as a whole. During a time when schools have been moved to become more creative and all-inclusive in their approaches, the Beth Tfiloh PreSchool has been successful in holding the virtual hands of so many of their students in an effort to keep the Beth Tfiloh bonds of friendship, learning, and community strong. As Heather says, “We are so thankful to have the Kesher option to be an active part of the BT community remotely until we are in person again.”
Learn more about Beth Tfiloh PreSchool’s experience at a Virtual Open House on Wednesday, November 11 at 8 pm. Sign up at www.bethtfiloh.com/fishbowl.
*Morah is Hebrew for “teacher”