Supporting Our Scholars and Community During COVID-19

by Liz Sadler, Director of Academic Counseling

A core component of the Rainier Scholars support system is checking in with students, making sure they have what they need to succeed academically, and ensuring that their families’ basic needs are being met.

Many of our families are among the 22 million-plus who are now unemployed and struggling, and we are laser-focused on connecting them with resources and support.

We’ve created a Resource portal on our website, where you’ll find both Community Resources (in English and Spanish) and Learning Resources, including literacy tools with book lists and reading guides. We hope any members of the extended community who can benefit will make use of these. We’ve also implemented a variety of remote learning opportunities.

Here are additional details of how we’ve made the switch to remote learning and support:

Support highlights:

  •  Our Academic Enrichment Phase (AEP) has continued to send assignments and have Wednesday/Saturday learning opportunities through a combination of technologies.
  • AEP has held “reverse parent-teacher conferences,” with teachers contacting parents to provide support.
  • We’ve distributed chrome books or laptops to every family in need and have worked to ensure Wifi capability for all families without a reliable Internet connection.
  • Our middle, high school and college programming is up and running full steam ahead on Zoom. Highlights include our first-ever Zoom seminar discussion and High School Leadership Lab projects focused on leadership in the time of social distancing.
  • Our careers team has conducted dozens of mock interviews for high school and college scholars over Zoom.
  • Our Academic Counselor team has maintained weekly check-ins with every scholar and family across the program, providing critical links and information regarding current and emerging emergency needs.
  • We provide daily inspiration for scholars on Instagram.

About two-thirds of our middle and high school students are enrolled in Independent Schools, which immediately began online schooling. For these students, our Academic Counselors helped coach them through the transition to classes with Zoom and remote learning. Public school students have had a slower entry to remote learning, which has varied depending on school and school district. Academic Counselors are organizing “community lunches” via Zoom to help maintain the important Rainier Scholars community spirit – despite the quarantine.

Our college students have faced different challenges. Our Academic Counselors helped them navigate their school closures, finding a place to live (at home or with other family) and figuring out what they need to continue their college education in this new online education world. On top of the extra check ins, Academic Counselors are still working with schools to make sure students are staying on top of their work and making progress towards the goal of college graduation.

For all of our scholars and the community at large, we have worked on creating tips and tricks on how to be successful in the online learning environment. We’ve also worked with our Mental Health Team to create tips and tricks on staying emotionally healthy during this stressful time, which can be accessed via the Resource section of our website.