More than 75% of students enrolled in Collier County Public Schools (CCPS) are learning on campus. For many, like Manatee Elementary School fourth–grader Madison Rohletter, it will be their first time on campus this school year.
Despite learning virtually in Quarter 1, Madison has taken a leadership role within her classroom. According to her teacher Noreen Rushworth, “She’s usually the first to answer questions, which has helped her fellow classmates become more confident when they have to answer questions.” Rushworth, along with her assistant Irene Lopez, teaches within a Modified Curriculum (MC3) classroom. Their students, ranging from grades 1-4, have significant cognitive impairments. Madison, their only virtual student, is also one of the most impressive. With some CCPS students choosing virtual learning as their instructional model, there have been moderate struggles—but many have thrived. Madison has certainly done the latter and has adjusted wonderfully to her new learning environment.
Dr. Laurie Mearsheimer has been the Principal of MES for the last 5 years, and is very grateful to be a part of the CCPS family for the last 15 years. “It’s awesome that we have the infrastructure and resources to provide the virtual learning option for our students.” Mearsheimer believes that Madison’s teachers are the key to her success. “They both make sure that Madison is included in everything they do in the classroom, just as if she were physically here with us.”
Madison’s mom, Shaunna Rohletter, knows how difficult it can be for a teacher to teach virtually while still teaching in person, and make it work. “I have heard many different opinions on how virtual is working for friends and family, and I have to say that because of the MES staff, we are having a great experience with it!” Being virtual, Madison is not lacking fun times with her classmates either. At the start of recess each day, Rushworth hands her phone off to her students and allows them to take Madison outside with them to play and have fun. According to mom, “It’s the highlight of Madison’s day. She goes to recess with her classmates while they take turns holding the phone, and she runs around and has races with them as they race!”
Madison will soon be able to be there and have fun with her classmates once again. With the start of Quarter 2 in November, Madison will be returning to the familiar environment of the classroom and her mom couldn’t be happier. “She really enjoys school, so not being able to be there for the start of the year has been a big adjustment for her.”
The whole virtual experience has been challenging for students and teachers alike, but Rushworth is excited to have witnessed one of her students flourish under the circumstances. “It’s been great to look into Madison’s world during this process and see how she has stepped up and continued to learn despite being in an environment outside the classroom.” Rushworth is also thrilled to have Madison back in the classroom, and thinks her fourth–graders feels the same way. “I get the feeling that she’s very excited to come back to a classroom with classmates that she really knows.”