For many students enrolled at California Virtual Academies, Community Day provides a great opportunity to make lasting friendships, bond with their teachers and socially engage with one another during stimulating field-trips, programs, symposiums and in-person academic instruction on the K12 curriculum by their dedicated teachers.
Community Day is a hybrid program designed by CAVA to foster academic collaboration and socialization among students, as well as parents, who serve as “learning coaches” to their kids. The Community Day program mimics the “traditionally valued” benefits of a bricks and mortar school, allowing students to regularly engage with in-person play and academic involvement with their peers, while still providing them with the daily, safe, virtual, K12 programing that they’ve come to know and grow with. The program is usually held at a community center or church once or twice a week for a few hours where students receive tutorials in K12’s curriculum including subjects like math, language, and the arts.
On Community Day, students are meeting face-to-face with their everyday virtual teachers and are accustomed to their teaching methodology and programming, says Gina Garland, a site coordinator for Community Day in Fountain Valley. “So the students are very engaged.”
Ms. Garland runs the Community Day program at Beachpoint Church every Tuesday and plans popular activities such as talent shows, science fairs and spelling bees. One favorite activity of the students was when CAVA hired a company to explore oceans at Newport Beach.
In the following interview, Gina discusses the important role that Community Day plays in the positive social development of CAVA students:
Q: Why is Community Day important?
A: We know that as human beings we need relationships. At Community Day, the student actually gets to know their teacher and the teacher gets to know their student, face-to-face, to build that relationship. It gives students an opportunity….to play with other kids their age and to see who else is in CAVA. One of the neat things is that Community Day also gives the learning coaches an opportunity to collaborate with each other.
Q: Do the students form great friendships at Community Day?
A: Oh Yes. They don’t want to leave. We also have a parent/teacher organization…and they also plan excursions that a lot of families like to attend.
Q: How has your past experience as an educator helped you coordinate Community Day activities?
A: I taught math and science for seven years at a bricks and mortar school. I draw from that experience a lot, especially when we have discussions with the learning coaches. One of the things parents always ask is “how do we motivate our kids?” I give them tricks that we learned as teachers at bricks and mortar schools like time-outs. These parents don’t know that kind of stuff.
Q: What feedback do you receive from the students and parents who participate in Community Day?
A: They know and see that we care. They know that we’re there to support them. There’s a positive atmosphere that we’re able to create here.
Q: What would the outside observer take away from spending time with you and your students at Community Day?
A: They would think how cool it is that kids get to work in groups together…and how they’re able to put their minds together to work on projects. I think they would think it’s cool that we get to highlight achievement and give students opportunities to excel.