Parents helping parents: Colony offers support for students, families struggling with virtual education

Councilwoman Ethel Alexander talks about Colony’s new virtual education support program at Tuesday evening’s town council meeting. (W.C. Mann for The Cullman Tribune)

COLONY, Ala. – Colony Councilwoman Ethel Alexander on Tuesday evening told the town council and guests about a new program she and several mothers from the community have started to help students who are struggling with virtual learning under the current conditions of COVID-19. Mothers and students are bringing their computers and other devices to the Educational Complex Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings from 10 a.m. until noon, where the kids can plug in while the moms compare notes on how to do things. Meanwhile, Alexander- a once and now again educator herself- comes to provide support and advice to the parents and students on anything from academics to navigating the online world of virtual education.

Alexander told The Tribune, “They’re working through the virtual learning through the schools that they go to. They log on each morning that they come. The fifth grader, the sixth grader and the fourth grader are independent; we’re just there to assist them if they have a question. But they’re able to read and do their work, so it’s just a reinforcement for them.

“The younger ones, the first graders, we’re doing more hands-on with them. The mothers are actually taking charge in that, and they’re doing a great job. We have one mother that actually, she seeks out the work that should be done, that goes to support what they’re doing through virtual, because what has happened, I think, is that they’re logging on to virtual, but there is nobody talking, really, back to them. The children, they need that hands-on type, that communication back and forth.

“The parents are doing very well with that. What I’m just doing is I’m assisting the parents and encouraging them that they can do this thing, because they didn’t know if they would be able to manage, and they had so many questions on virtual and the new way of learning, now. I think they’re going to do a great job.”

Right now, the program has three mothers and five students participating, but the group is open to any student who can come with a parent.

“We do have room for others, but the thing is that if a parent brings a child, they have to stay with the child. We’re teaching the parents to be teachers,” Alexander said, adding, “If that parent is having trouble, we’re there to help the parent. They’re not by themselves. That’s the good thing about it: the parents are supporting each other. So if one’s having trouble, the other one can maybe take up the slack. I’m there to also help take up the slack if there’s issues, because there were a lot of concerns when we first started.”

Alexander concluded, “I believe they’re going to do good.”

During its meeting, the council and Mayor Donnis Leeth voted four to one to support the program with a $50 per month contribution to purchase supplies and materials. Councilman and Mayor-Elect Curtis Johnson cast the only vote against the motion.
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W.C. Mann