In normal years, when I get to travel around and speak to people about FileMaker, I am always gratified by how many of you in our community ask me about One Spark Academy, the non profit learning center that my wife Lori and I started in 2011. Many of you follow the happenings there, and many of you also give every year to our end-of-year campaign. It is so nice to be a part of such an interested and generous community. 2020 has been an extra challenge as you can imagine, and I am here to ask you again if you can help support our mission.
Rising to the Challenge
It’s not news that families all over the country are struggling. People have lost jobs or wages. Parents have to work from home, often while their children are home also trying to keep up with school work. Everyone has learned to Zoom.
One Spark is doing what we can to help. We have changed just about everything we do while continuing to give our students a solid and engaging curriculum, as evidenced by the pictures here. At the same time, we’re holding or reducing costs where we can, so our students don’t find interruptions in their learning needs.
Of course this comes with a financial burden that we can’t ignore. We still have the same number of employees to pay as before. We still have bills to pay. We still need to make ends meet. This is why we are reaching out to you. Your tax-deductible donation can help us help families and kids who need it. Please consider giving any amount.
Learning in the Time of COVID
When the pandemic hit and lockdowns became a reality, One Spark Academy moved quickly to become a fully virtual program. It was a challenge, but part of the mission of One Spark is to stay focused on the students and adapt to their needs. So even though nobody knew what an online middle school program should be like in the middle of a pandemic, the teachers, students and families quickly figured out how to bring the unique philosophy and focus from a site-based academy to a Zoom room.
How do you move a cooking class online? Well, the teachers who normally cooked with our students in the kitchen decided to deliver all the ingredients to the students’ houses, safely left on the door step, and then met their students on Zoom. Bread Club was a summer take on our cooking class, which continued into Fall, and it was a big hit. Meanwhile, our regular cooking class (“Food Fascination”) teamed up with local restaurants, whose chefs offered our students mini-lessons on signature dishes and a chance to recreate them at home.
The Great Outdoors
Once it became clear that outdoors with social distancing and masks was a safe way to learn, we moved some classes outdoors. We even built an outdoor classroom in our local community garden, where the “Seeds and Sprouts” class met. Geology was another class that moved easily outdoors. We rounded that out with Fitness Club at the local park, and Hiking Club on the trails. Having outdoor time together improved our students’ mental health, which made online learning better.
While One Spark spent extra care on helping students with their social and emotional well being, we didn’t drop the core educational opportunities. We still offered a full slate of core curriculum. Everything from math, English, world geography and history, to specialized science and computer engineering classes are still being offered.
This is a challenging time for everyone. But some of us are still doing okay, and may even have a little extra to give. If you are one of those folks and are looking for some way to help, please consider helping us to better help our families this year. Your generosity will make a difference.