WINCHESTER – 240 experiences, eight providers, multiple days and the chance for Winchester Primary School children to experience excitement and joy. The Winchester Educational Foundation (WFEE) is creating an online academy to provide programs for WPS students during their remote school hours.
“The WFEE Academy is a pilot project,” according to WFEE Executive Director Caren Connelly. “We work with 8 different providers who offer 45-minute lessons on topics as diverse as theater and the life cycle of a great white shark.”
Thanks to a $30,000 WFEE grant, classes will be free for students learning under the hybrid model or studying entirely remotely.
“This school year is tough for everyone, we hope this grant helps students and parents looking for options,” said Deb DePeter, chair of the WFEE Board of Trustees. “It may not meet everyone’s needs, but we think it’s a creative approach to a complicated problem.”
Classes are for students in grades K-5, they will be offered on Monday and Tuesday, then again on Thursday and Friday during unscheduled school hours. During the two-week pilot project, each student has the opportunity to participate in 8 different courses. Registration will open on January 4, classes will start on January 25.
“It’s going to be fast and fun,” Connelly said. “At the end of the WFEE Academy pilot, we will be surveying parents to see if they want the program to continue; and, if so, do they like the mixture of offerings? »
Offered on Zoom, the course will be restricted (25 participants) to ensure maximum engagement.
“We understand the concern that our children are being ‘zoomed out,’ so we work with experienced companies that have found ways to successfully connect with children,” according to DePeter. “For example, one of the providers will be Winchester’s Studio on the Common, which will provide hands-on art instruction (with materials readily available at home) that explores identity and self-awareness on how we engage with society based on visual cues.”
Studio on the Common has offered similar programming since the pandemic began. notes owner Gail Freeman.
“Our programming keeps kids engaged in learning while giving parents a break.”
Winchester businessman and WFEE board member Brian Milauskas will provide Kidstock! programs such as “Read, Respond, Solve,” a literacy workshop that teaches creative problem solving. Other programs such as DrumatiX will allow children to move while discovering various art forms.
“Educators tell us they are worried about their students’ academic skills, but they are increasingly concerned about their emotional needs,” Connelly said. “We all strive to meet the multiple needs of students. Today we have found a starting point. We offer programming that we hope will encourage creativity while engaging the minds of students. We hope our mix of offerings allows students to virtually interact with their peers without working on purely academic tasks. The school principals told us that it was a real need.
“The WFEE Grants Committee and our entire Board of Directors reviewed this proposal for several months,” according to DePeter. “We believe this is an effective use of our donors’ donations at a time when everyone is struggling to do the right thing.”
More information about the program can be found at www.wfee.org