Building Strong Remote Relationships at WES

When you’re a school principal, connecting with each of your students can be a bit of a challenge. Add a hybrid system with at-home learners and that challenge becomes even more daunting. 

“This year is certainly a unique one and I am trying to find creative ways to involve our remote learners as much as possible,” said Williams Elementary Principal, Melanie Smith.  

From streaming monthly assemblies to school spirit weeks that include remote learners, WES is doing all it can to keep all students connected with the school.  Remote students are included in the Eagles of the Week and school-wide events like World Kindness day.  One of Mrs. Smith’s absolute favorite ways to connect with her remote students has been through her love of reading. 

 “I believed monthly read-alouds would be the best way as I could share my own personal connections to the texts and students would also have the same opportunity to share information about themselves with me and with their classmates,” said Smith.  

Mrs. Smith kicked off the year by reading  “That’s Life” by Ame Dyckman to both in-person and remote learners. For this first reading, Smith was joined by school counselor Chad Parisi. They both took the time to connect the theme of the book to the events of the pandemic and shared feelings they’ve experienced over the last few months and how they have overcome some of the obstacles they have faced. 

October’s reading of “The Cool Bean” by Jory John helped to reinforce the WES school theme for the year, Be the Light and Shine Bright. 

“The students and I discussed ways we could be the lights for others,” said Mrs. Smith. “ I challenged students to perform small acts of kindness in the following week and to share those acts of kindness with their teachers.” Smith also read the book in all classrooms during the month of October to allow WES teachers to take a mask break and to provide her with an additional opportunity to connect with in-person learners.   

This month she has been reading “The Magical Yet” and has enjoyed hearing about all the amazing things the students have learned to do with hard work and effort. 

“It is important to me that I remain connected to our remote students,” said Mrs. Smith. “ I miss seeing them each day at school and I enjoy checking in with them.  It is also important to me that I am able to establish relationships with our remote 3rd graders in Mr. Case’s class as they have never stepped foot in our school.”  

There will come a time when all WES students will be able to be under the same roof again. In the meantime, Mrs. Smith and her staff will continue to connect with their remote learners any way they can and remind them that they are an important part of the WES family.  

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