The Southwestern College Learning Center and S and Y Industries have teamed up to provide remote learning support for children of S and Y employees.
Matt Miers, general manager at S and Y Industries, said that employees were finding it difficult to manage a work schedule and child care.
S and Y partners with Ventec Life Systems, selected by GM and the U.S. Government, to mass produce portable ventilator systems in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. S and Y has seen a significant increase in production while employees important to the process are having to take off work to spend time with their own children who are currently remote learning due to the USD 465 closure of buildings and face-to-face learning.
“Our employees were having to work and then go home to watch their kids, and then coming back to work,” Miers said. “We wanted to offer something to assist them.”
S and Y has purchased a building adjacent to their existing facility and will use half of it for production while creating a daycare for the other half. He reached out to J.K. Campbell, education division chair at Southwestern College, and to Alexis Miers, director of the SC Learning Center. Alexis Miers worked with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to obtain all of the necessary documentation and Campbell recruited Southwestern education students to staff the space.
“The available building at S and Y is set-up to easily accommodate students in a remote learning environment,” Campbell said. “There is a large learning area with several adjoining offices, which will allow our students to set up quiet, socially-distanced learning areas for the children based on age, grade level and learning needs. The building already has an entry area which accommodates safety protocols, including check-in and check-out of children by parents, and meets requirements specific to the pandemic such as temperature checks upon entry.
“I provided a list of items necessary to meet the needs of children in an all-day instructional setting such as whiteboards, tables and chairs to fit the various ages of children, and materials and resources to think about when students aren’t directly involved in remote learning. The team of SC students placed at this site will provide children with brain breaks and promote physical activity, in addition to supporting the children with their remote learning needs.”
According to Matt Miers, one option was to pay for the children of S and Y employees to attend the SC Learning Center, but they were already at capacity.
Alexis Miers wanted to not only help out the local industry, but also offer a teaching opportunity for SC students.
“We just really want to offer a service that helps families by making it easier to learn and work and for SC students this is a great chance to support young learners,” Alexis Miers said.
Campbell also agreed that this could be a win-win situation.
“Our students benefit anytime they can engage with children and build skills necessary to be successful teachers,” Campbell said. “This setting will help them develop skills at building positive relationships with kids and their families, collaborate with USD 465-experienced educators to benefit the children for whom they are supporting with remote learning, learn what it takes to work one-on-one or with small groups, and find ways to help them be successful. It’s a great opportunity for the students who will be providing services to children of S and Y employees.”
Campbell added that he is pleased Southwestern has students willing to step up and offer support to S and Y industry employees and their children in what is a difficult time for everyone.
Annika Newby, a Southwestern College junior from Oklahoma City, has been working at the SCLC and has taken a leadership role in organizing online learning support for children at the center.
“I’m grateful that I got a chance to witness and help out during this pandemic,” Newby said. “Working with these kids has been a great experience for me and has given me helpful insight that I will take with me when I become an elementary school teacher. Although this journey hasn’t been easy, it’s been very rewarding and I’m simply grateful for that.”
Matt Miers said that Campbell has been instrumental in getting this project moving forward.
“J.K. has led the charge in finding instructors,” Matt Miers said. “He has also helped us figure out how to use the new space.”
The learning center at S and Y opened Jan. 4 and currently has about 10 learners attending each day.