This year has been undeniably unusual; it’s been downright CRAZY! For PAA, those challenges include the complicated endeavor to build a school community and culture when everyone is doing school from home.
But we believe challenges are opportunities in disguise!
This opportunity inspired a lot of thoughtful, solution-oriented discussion among PAA teachers. It resulted in the brilliant Homeroom Family concept.
Every PAA student belongs to a Homeroom Family overseen by a PAA teacher and/or staff member.
In the distance-learning phase, that “room” is a Zoom Room. They meet virtually weekly for announcements and a student led all-school viewable chapel, followed by meaningful discussion and prayer.
When students return to campus, Homeroom Families will meet daily, always in the same classroom, for lunch, announcements, discussion, games, and a weekly chapel.
Liesl Vistaunet: As PAA’s story teller, I get to explore all the many things happening at PAA. Maria Bibb, International Student Director and Freshman Class Sponsor, invited me to join her first Homeroom Family meetup on Zoom.
It was a moving experience. Chapel was hopeful, despite all the hard stuff happening in our world, our country, and in our region with fires, evacuations, and so much loss.
Liesl: What do you like and what are some good things about PAA’s new Homeroom Family groups?
Maria: I love that once we’re back on campus, I get to connect with students daily; I’m especially glad I will have students that I don’t have in my classes because it changes the relationship from a teacher with homework and grading to a mentor or guide to the high school experience.
Liesl: What do you hope you can provide for students as a Homeroom Teacher?
Maria: My hope and prayer is to create a fun and safe space for students to ask questions about not just schoolwork, but about life and how to navigate through it with God. I’m so looking forward to our additional lunch times together!
Liesl: In the meet up I attended, chapel that day was so moving. It was just one week following wild-fires which forced many PAA families to flee their homes. Shamara, a junior, shared the chapel message that morning (READ ABOUT IT HERE). She was an honest and hopeful about of her evacuation and she encouraged others to maintain a positive outlook. You shared from your heart about how the verse of the day (Psalm 46:1-3), and how the rest of that chapter brings you encouragement. Will you please share that perspective with our readers?
Maria: Those first few verses in Psalms 46 talks about God being our refuge during the troubles of the world. When I think of “refuge” I think of a space to escape and relax, but I moved on to verse 5 where it says that during all this trouble, God is in the midst of it. “Midst” meaning middle. God is with us in the middle of all this trouble. So not only is He our refuge, but He is with us when we are in the middle of all the troubles of the world.
Liesl: As our International Student Director, students are unfamiliar with the Bible, Jesus, and how we as Westerners and Christians communicated with God.
Maria: In teaching the international students how to pray, [I explain] that God can hear us even when we don’t speak out loud. No matter what is going on around us, we can call to God without saying a word audibly. He is with us and provides peace when we are in trouble.
BY THE WAY . . .
Because of our county’s coronavirus cases, schools had to begin the school year in a Distance-Learning phase. We’ve at that phase because the case count has not improved enough to legally gather in larger groups.
When students return to In-Person Learning, we have a whole Blue Print about how to safely gather in classrooms, hallways, and other important events. Part of that means maintaining physical distance, wearing a mask, and rigorous limits to room occupancy. Inconvenient, but a must-do to protect students, teachers, and their families. READ HERE about PAA’s 10-student class which took place over the summer.