“We are a family online working and learning together.”
City Park teacher Melanie Lovingood is engaging with students virtually to create an environment of "computer community." Mrs. Lovingood works with kindergarten and first grade students who chose virtual learning at City Park School.
Each morning, Mrs. Lovingood sings "wake up" songs with her students and welcomes them individually into her virtual classroom. In her 25 years of teaching, Mrs. Lovingood said she couldn't have anticipated the challenges this year would present.
"I enjoy teaching," Mrs. Lovingood said. "I didn't know this year how I was going to create community over the computer, and it's exciting to see how these children have created their own community."
Liz Forberger, a math and science instructional coach at City Park, said Mrs. Lovingood embodies the Dalton Difference by making everyday an authentic experience for her students.
"She does everything to make her students feel like a part of that classroom even though they can't physically be there," Mrs. Forberger said. "Her focus is her students and their achievements. You can walk into Melanie's room anytime during math and see her singing and dancing.
Mrs. Forberger believes Mrs. Lovingood is an excellent example for teachers everywhere.
"Melanie spends hours planning," Mrs. Forberger said. "She makes sure what she puts in front of them is the right thing to capture their attention. Melanie is an exemplary teacher, and she definitely embodies the 'Dalton difference.'"
Mrs. Lovingood's students are enthusiastic and often excited to greet each other at the start of the day. She said students feel their best when they are connected to others who will challenge and support them.
"They just need to feel like they are a part of something," Mrs. Lovingood said. "They need to feel like they are part of a group and that we're all in it together."
Brenda Deal, a paraprofessional who helps Mrs. Lovingood in her classroom, is retiring this spring after 30 years of teaching. She said the biggest challenge they've overcome together was adapting to the new technology.
"I was one of those people who sat back and let technology pass me by, but I've had to do a lot of catching up this year," Mrs. Deal said. "Melanie has helped me a lot. She's been teaching me, as well as the children."
According to Mrs. Lovingood, teachers everywhere are working longer days as they adapt to virtual learning standards and work to create new and exciting lesson plans.
"We've been learning on the fly," Mrs. Lovingood said. "We are a family online working and learning together."