BREVARD COUNTY — As schools across the state closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students and teachers have missed being in the classroom and seeing each other on a daily basis.
Viera Charter School Principal Dr. Julie Cady came up with an idea to spread school pride while helping students and staff feel connected.
Faculty members photographed themselves holding a letter, and when featured adjacently in a “photo quilt,” each letter spells out an acrostic poem “VCS Panthers.”
“I wanted students to be able to see all their teachers, faculty, and staff from the school in photos taken at their homes,” Dr. Cady said. “The purpose is to comfort students during this uncertain time and help them tap into the best version of themselves to cope with stress and prevail.”
Each word represents the VCS “Mighty Panthers,” and Dr. Cady added that each word is based on the strong character education taught throughout the curriculum.
Altogether, the photo quilt displays Virtual, Champion, Stellar, Powerful, Amazing, Nurturer, Teamwork, Helpful, Empathy, Revered, Success.
“School pride has been an enormously helpful rallying point to have courage in a scary time, and to simply show up and do our best, even if we don’t know exactly what is coming next, to do the next right thing and keep moving forward and together, we will prevail,” Dr. Cady said.
Many students this year missed out on celebrating an important milestone publicly – graduation, but eighth graders at VCS received a special acknowledgement by their teachers anyway.
Faculty members went to the homes of all eighth grade students graduating from VCS to deliver “Congratulations Graduate” signs and took photos of students wearing their cap and gown.
“It was priceless for eighth graders to see their teachers come to their homes to create a special experience, with social distancing, wearing masks,” Dr. Cady said. “This replaces the cap and gown ceremony normally done at the end of the year.”
Kindergarteners will have a cap and gown ceremony later in the summer, and fifth graders moving to Viera Charter School’s new middle school will celebrate a “moving-up” party in their virtual classrooms.
Students aren’t the only part of VCS Dr. Cady wishes to recognize.
“Our teachers are exceeding anyone’s wildest dreams for performance during this time of mandatory home-based education,” she said. “They are first and foremost helping to meet the emotional and social needs of our students. While our students may be shielded from much of the stress we adults must face, children do feel the stress from social isolation and uncertainty.”
Dr. Cady explained that as part of a contract with Charter School Associates, the latter trained teachers on March 23 on the use of Microsoft Teams to allow teachers to provide live instruction, and allow students to see and interact with each other.
Teachers have been encouraged to get creative and lighten the workload to lessen the stress of isolation while also instilling a love of learning.
Since VCS resumed classes virtually after spring break, students and teachers have not had to make up any days.
For more information, visit www.vieracharterschool.com.