When teachers returned to Lighthouse Christian Academy in June, they knew the school would have to change.
Of course there were new health and safety protocols, but they didn’t want extra rules to overwhelm students. So instead of minimizing the changes they embraced them, reimagining everything about school — including the name.
“We called it Camp Lighthouse,” says Principal Karen Daniels. “We all wore camp shirts, we did lots of outdoor activities, and we brought in all the extra physical distancing protocols at the same time.”
Outdoor learning isn’t new for Lighthouse Christian Academy, which has always maintained small class sizes and natural surroundings, so the switch to a camp atmosphere was fairly easy. Students launched rockets, tie-dyed t-shirts, took field trips to Glen Lake, and ate lunch around the campfire.
“Our remote learning through April and May went really well, so for in-person schooling in June we focused on social learning and mental health,” Daniels says. “We’re going to continue to address that in the fall. Of course we’re offering solid academics, but we also want to be tender and supportive to students, their families, and our whole community.”
Supportive social skill development
Isolation and uncertainty has been hard on kids as well as their parents, and Lighthouse Christian Academy wants to do their part to help.
“Parental stress spreads through the whole family, whether that’s job stress or concerns about sending kids back to school. We want parents to know that we’re doing extra cleaning, we’ve reorganized classrooms to improve physical distancing, and we have protocols in place to keep your kids safe. And we want students to know that we’re going to have a lot of fun!”
Along with academics, middle and high schoolers will learn social skills to better support their peers and reconnect after months of isolation.
“We’re going to focus on building relationships and empathy,” Daniels says. “How can you support your peers? How can you nurture your own mental health? Are you being kind to your parents, and patient at school?”
Daniels is grateful that the school’s tight-knit community is able to adapt quickly and develop personal connections with students and their families. It allows them to be proactive in supporting at-risk students and meeting the needs of families.
“I think it’s important to recognize this as just a season of our lives, even if it’s difficult,” Daniels says. “We’re encouraging students to keep a journal and take pictures, because this is a historic time that’s worth remembering.”