Distance Learning Done Right

The past school year has been a challenging experience for students, parents, and teachers alike as schools transitioned to distance learning in the face of COVID-19. When schools began to switch from in-person classes to distance learning, parents like Joan Cooper and Jessica Simmons, who both have students at Quest Forward Academy Omaha, had concerns about their children becoming disengaged and not receiving the support they needed during the transition. 

“My daughter was moving into the fourth term and [I was concerned that] she would miss the last part of the academic year. I was concerned that she would fall behind and struggle to make up the work.” said Joan about her Grade 9 daughter. 

But both parents have been delighted to now see firsthand the passion of their child’s teachers, the commitment their child has to their own education, and the consistent, steady pace and familiar structure of schoolwork. 

“My daughter gets the attention, care and concern from her mentors that is incredibly important as she settled into her new ‘normal,’” said Joan. “She did NOT miss a day of her 9th grade experience while the school implemented distance learning. As a parent, this is refreshing and comforting that I do not need to keep making requests for assignments or seek feedback on my daughter’s progress. The mentors have reached out to us to make sure we are kept in the loop.”

She concluded, “If anything, the distance learning has reinforced my belief that Quest Forward Academy is a gold standard of education.”

A screenshot of a Zoom call where students are distance learning during an English class. The students and the teacher all smile at the camera and give a thumbs up.
Even though they’ve switched to distance learning, Quest Forward Academy students still meet daily as a class and small groups, work on independent projects, and stay engaged.

Jessica also found that things were business as usual for her son, who is in Grade 10. 

“My student gets up at 8:30 am, has some coffee, and breakfast, then … has a meeting with his advisor about his plan for the day,” said Jessica. “Then he has intermittent meetings on Zoom where he chats and collaborates with peers and mentors…. During his meetings he is an animated and active participant. He logs off around 5 and participates in family life.”

Joan echoed her sentiments regarding structure and engagement. “The day begins and she is engaged in her school work until break time. The day really continues without a hitch. Our daughter has a schedule and can follow it with very little guidance.”

The experience has helped both parents gain a deeper respect for their students and the curriculum at the school. 

Extracurriculars like the Global Learning Program, where Quest Forward Academy students meet with Tanzanian students, have been able to continue as well while students learn from home.

“I am very impressed by her independence and ability to navigate her on-line learning as if this is how she has always been learning,” remarked Joan. “I have been impressed by the level of understanding my daughter has achieved and the complexity of her work. She does not seem frazzled or fearful of her work becoming increasingly more difficult. She just keeps moving forward, without complaints.”

“I have noticed that the assignments really encourage thinking, not just fact recall,” said Jessica. “The assignments are varied and are not easy; they require an amount of mastery of the subject matter to do successfully. I am also surprised that my student doesn’t consider it ‘hard’ or ‘stupid’ but has embraced working at that higher-order thinking level.”

Both parents say that the transition to distance learning has impacted their impression of the school for the better. 

“My regard for staff, especially mentors has increased greatly. They have rolled with the changes and are encouraging students to thrive,” reported Jessica. 

Get to know Quest Forward Academy mentors and staff at an upcoming Open House, and have all your questions about distance learning answered. Contact Lauren Dombrowski at lauren@questforward.academy to RSVP.