The September 4th Transform Westside Summit featured student, parent, and educator perspectives on remote learning during the 2020-2021 school year. Westside Future Fund President & CEO, John Ahmann, moderated a panel discussion between: Dr. Diamond Ford, Principal at Hollis Innovation Academy; Sherry Bellille, Co-founder of Parent Avengers; and Wykeisha Howe, Vice President of Hollis Innovation Academy PTA & Co-founder of Parent Avengers. Contributing to the summit via prerecorded interviews were: Jordan Smith, an 11th grade student at Booker T. Washington High School; and Lashaune Rogers, Case Manager at Atlanta Police Foundation’s @Promise Center.
Dr. Diamond Ford, Principal, Hollis Innovation Academy
Dr. Ford spoke on the challenges educators faced during the first day of school when Zoom, the video conference platform used by many schools to conduct virtual classes, suffered a major outage. Dr. Ford also emphasized the importance of Hollis teachers and staff following up with the 20% of students who suffer from connectivity issues on a regular basis, as success with remote learning depends primarily on reliable internet access.
Sherry Bellille, Co-founder, Parent Avengers
Sherry Bellille and Wykeisha Howe offered parent perspectives on the Zoom outage before speaking to the fact that remote learning is just as much a learning experience for parents as it is for students.
Wykeisha Howe, Vice President, Hollis Innovation Academy PTA; Co-founder, Parent Avengers
Outlining the process of becoming familiar with new learning platforms and software, navigating lessons alongside students, and staying in touch with teachers to resolve issues in real time, the pair shed light on the increased role parents are tasked with playing in their children’s education in these unprecedented times.
Jordan Smith, 11th grade student, Booker T. Washington High School
Jordan Smith, son of Sherry Bellille and junior at Booker T. Washington High School, gave his take on distance learning, sharing how much he enjoys being able to be “more locked in” with fewer distractions throughout the day. However, while reminiscing on playing basketball with his friends after school, Smith noted, “I kind of miss it. It’s like you can’t get back to your life, and you’re just doing the same thing over and over again.”
Lashaune Rogers, Case Manager, @Promise Center
Lashaune Rogers, Case Manager at @Promise Center, sat down with Craig Lucie, Owner of Lucie Content and former WSB-TV News Anchor, to discuss the services the @Promise Center is offering to Westside youths. Currently supplying about forty students with socially distant work spaces and internet access for digital learning every Monday through Thursday from 8AM to 4PM, the @Promise Center is investing in closing the resource gap that many Westside families face.
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