United States, October 26, 2020, ZEXPRWIRE, Data released this week from an education nonprofit revealed “as many as three million children in the United States have received no formal education since the shutdowns this spring.” The ongoing challenges of educating students amidst a global pandemic place tremendous pressure on students, educators, and families. Innovative leaders, like Dr. Amy Alzina of Cold Spring Elementary District, have faced the storm and developed systems that work for their students. Cold Spring School District in Santa Barbara, a very small basic aid school of 178 students TK-6, led by Dr. Amy Alzina, lost no days transitioning to a distance learning program, Alzina credits the close relationships of students, families and educators for the progress made by Cold Springs students in spite of the crisis. “The District’s 100% attendance and work completion rate is the direct result of our relationship-driven approach. In fact, many grade-level teachers have started moving to the next grade-level content standards as a result of their students mastering current grade level standards.”
Alzina and Cold Spring were recognized for their innovativeness by the Small School Districts Association in the 2020 COVID Innovation Survey, which highlighted the many small and rural school districts in California that far exceeded the performance of their larger counterparts. Students at Cold Spring lost NO instruction days when all schools were closed in the Spring. Academic progress actually surpassed normal performance levels during the Spring semester due to the collaboration of students, families and educators.
According to Alzina, “The students within the Cold Spring School District showed academic gains on essential standards in all core subject areas. All second through sixth-grade students took the Renaissance STAR Reading and STAR Math assessment towards the end of May which showed gains in student achievement school-wide including special education students.”
Cold Springs leads the way in their establishment of a customized Blended Learning approach to enable the greatest achievement for all students. Alzina explained that every single subject includes social and emotional learning elements to ensure that the drastic effects of COVID on mental health are minimized. According to Alzina, the social and emotional impact of isolation and mass amounts of conflicting information are a significant threat to the welfare of our families. Every communication intentionally focused on the physical, social and emotional well-being of families and staff, emphasizing that academic progress can only be made once these vital needs are met.
As with so many other small schools, the backing of the community is a vital component of educational success. Cold Spring School District and its students and educators feel very fortunate to be a part of the highly supportive community of Montecito. Cold Springs School District and the community of Montecito have the capacity to ensure the futures of their children.
Dr. Kimberly Bonniksen
Email: [email protected]