By Kate Oczypok

Teacher Mrs. Dayma Sejas working on numbers with her attentive student; Courtesy of Mrs. Dayma Sejas

Local dual-immersion (Spanish and English) faith-based Montessori school Waterfront Academy is running a blended learning model this year. Students are in person five days a week for three-hour work cycles in smaller groups. 

“Since we are a smaller school, we can have students in person,” said Melissa Rohan, president and founder of the school. “Aligning with the best practices from the CDC and D.C., we are limiting the exposure time for the whole community.”

As a Montessori school, they believe three-hour work cycles and at least four consecutive days are a fundamental minimum for school education. The school has purchased supplies, materials and equipment to screen students and staff as they enter the school. They also regularly clean and disinfect daily and provide PPE to insure the safety of their community.

“We are doing all we can do to meet and sometimes exceed CDC and D.C. recommendations to keep staff and students healthy during the pandemic,” Rohan said. “Students have assigned seats, materials and supplies, and they’re placed six feet apart.”

All high contact areas are disinfected at least three times each day and handwashing, which has always been an important part of Waterfront’s routine, is now more important than ever. 

In addition to an in-person learning option, Waterfront Academy is offering a remote learning choice for students who wish to do so. They have taken the time to show parents remote learning in a Montessori way through a six-part series. 

“Orientation is very important for all humans—disorientation causes much stress,” Rohan said. “One big takeaway from the spring was that parents’ stress was affecting families and in turn was affecting the whole school community.”

Over the summer, the school put a lot of thought into how to prepare families to return to school and begin remote learning again. 

“We now have an army of teachers (schoolteachers and parents) working in partnership to make sure our students have the best education possible,” Rohan added. “The remote part of our blended learning is something we are really proud of. It is based on a truth, just as every child is different and should be respected for those differences, each family is also different so a remote learning model needs to be flexible to meet every family’s needs.”

Waterfront Academy has managed to not lay off or furlough a single staff member or teacher during these difficult times. It has been what Rohan has called an “all hands on deck situation” from day one back in March. 

“I couldn’t be prouder of how the whole community came together with the common goal of providing the best education for our students,” she said. “Quite frankly, it is the joy in the students’ eyes that make all the effort worth it.”

If you’re interested in learning more about the school, visit here.

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