For over 20 years, First Baptist Academy (FBA) has served students, from Infant through 8th Grade, and their families with a passion to equip them with the truth of God’s Word while developing their character and intellect. FBA was intentional about serving students and their families as the end of the 2019-2020 school year looked different than expected.
Head of School Teresa Chambers explains the transition to distance learning towards the end of the school year due to the coronavirus outbreak.
“In early March, my Leadership Team and I began having serious discussions about an extended closure due to COVID-19. Our first decision was to implement distance learning rather than extending our school year to deliver the full year’s curriculum,” Chambers shares. “So, prior to Spring Break, we trained our teachers on applications to record their instruction and discussed different ways to flip their classroom lessons into virtual lessons with an end goal of working through all of the curriculum for their grade."
FBA worked to ensure students were set up for success in distance learning.
“Our Middle School students participate in our 1:1 laptop program so it was fairly seamless for them to transition to distance learning. With our Lower School and Pre-Kindergarten students, we quickly worked to ensure they each had access to a laptop or tablet at home for distance learning. If not, we provided one to them.” Chambers says. "Each student from Pre-Kindergarten through 8th grade participated in a mix of online instruction and independent study.”
FBA supported students as well as parents during the time of distance learning.
“Each week, the principals and I sent out videos to our parents and students and touched upon highlights, whether it was academic, spiritual, or community events, for the upcoming week. A typical email no longer seemed appropriate,” Chambers explains. “We were all desiring more face time and live voices during this time. Additionally, our administration and teachers were continually mindful of a student’s absence or falling behind in turning in work. We understood many students, whether academically strong or not, would cope with the change differently and thus we made a focused effort to monitor behavior.”
The sudden disruption to the school year was a difficult adjustment for parents, too. Courtney Schisler has two students at FBA and appreciates how the school rose to the challenges presented by the pandemic.
“The school did an incredible job of transitioning us to distance learning for the last few months of school,” says Schisler. “We could not be more pleased with how FBA made lemonade out of lemons; from the monumental work our teachers did to ensure that our kids did not fall behind, to the very entertaining Online Auction event to raise funds for the school, to the 8th grade parade.”
That parade was how FBA chose to celebrate their 8th grade graduates, along with a virtual graduation on Thu, May 21. (See gallery.) Chambers explained how the celebration came about.
“Our Middle School Principal, Mrs. Diers, really felt we should make this as special as we could for our graduates. This group of young men and women have reached the pinnacle of a First Baptist Academy education and we want to acknowledge all of their hard work,” Chambers shares. “Over half the class are Alpha-Omega students which means they have attended First Baptist Academy from Kindergarten through 8th grade. So to start the day with a “Trip Down Memory Lane” car parade at the school allowed teachers from all past grades to come cheer on our graduates! At the end of our parade, we handed them a gift box containing a few special gifts along with their diploma. This gift box was opened together in a virtual graduation ceremony. It was an emotional day as we recalled all of the memories with these families over the years. We have truly grown to know and love them!”
Schisler’s daughter Moriah was an Alpha-Omega student, so having her time together with classmates come to an end so abruptly was extremely difficult.
“Seeing all of Moriah’s current and former teachers come out to celebrate them at the parade was an absolute gift,” Schisler says. “We were also grateful to see The HUB Student Ministry staff from the church there since they have invested a great deal of their time as well to love on our kids.”
For Moriah, the parade was a welcome replacement for what many adults have grown weary of, too.
“I know we all thought that the car parade was very special,” she says, “and we loved being able to see each other in-person instead of on a Zoom meeting!”
As a parent, Schisler found encouragement in the celebratory parade, too.
“The parade was exactly what our quarantine-fatigued souls needed — to see each other face-to-face and celebrate our 8th graders who have worked so hard to finish well!”
Applications for the 2020-2021 school year are still being accepted online. Please visit FBA at fbahouston.org. They would love the opportunity to partner with you in your child’s education!