Blog

The State of Groves Academy Winter

Thank you, thank you, thank you. And again, thank you.

This fall semester has been like no other in the history of Groves Academy. We balanced COVID-19 safety protocols with our ongoing mission to deliver transformative learning experiences.

Two words best sum up the last four months: gratitude and success.

Gratitude for students, parents, and staff who embraced COVID-19 safety protocols. Together, we accomplished so much in a short amount of time.

We also recognize successes that exceeded previous performance benchmarks.

All that we learned this fall will improve Groves Academy for years to come. More than silver linings, these have been unexpected golden opportunities.

Meeting the Safety Concerns of COVID-19

Groves Academy stayed a safe place for learning. While it wasn’t business as usual, it was learning as we had known before. Our school and The Learning Center opened in-person.

We implemented protocols such as masks, social distancing, contact tracing, and more. These steps allowed Groves Academy to deliver transformative learning experiences.

The safety protocols mitigated COVID-19 among staff and students. Our total number of cases of COVID-19 has remained in the single digits. What’s more, none of those cases were a result of school transmission.

The Move to Distance Learning

Groves Academy knows nothing equals an in-person learning experience. Our goal was to open in-person and maintain that experience throughout the year. A wave of COVID-19 infections throughout the Twin Cities community made it prudent to switch some offerings online.

Our upper and middle schools pivoted to distance learning. Our lower school shifted to three days of in-person learning. The tutoring and speech-language programs also migrated to an online model for a period of time. Our diagnostic testing services remained in-person throughout the pandemic.

The learnings from last spring improved our approach to distance learning in the 2020–2021 school year. We provided intentional time for teachers to prepare lessons. We improved how we monitor distance learning experiences. We also employed technology platforms that augmented Google Classroom.

We’ve made many improvements to distance learning, but our hope remains the same. We want students back on campus as soon as it is safe. Until then, we continue to improve our online offerings. We also seek new ways to bridge the gap between in-person and distance learning.

Meeting the Need for Diagnostic Testing

Some Groves services need to be in person without exception. Top among these is diagnostic testing. An accurate learning disability diagnosis requires hours of in-person testing.

By applying COVID-19 protocols, our staff created a safe testing experience.

Other factors helped Groves Academy continue diagnostic testing. Over the last year, we increased the size of our diagnostic testing staff. Growth became important as the demand for diagnostic testing grew. The increase might be due to parents spending more time at home with their kids. They saw firsthand how their kids performed with the curriculum via online learning.

We’re proud that Groves Academy met this increased demand. We will continue helping young learners identify their learning challenges.

Groves Literacy Partnerships Continued Bringing Science-Based Curriculum to Teachers and Students

Everyone can and deserves to learn how to read, never more so than during a pandemic. This year, Groves Literacy Partnerships touched the lives of more than 5,000 students in public, charter, and independent schools through our Groves Literacy coaches. It’s a fantastic feat and one we are incredibly proud to have achieved.

COVID-19 fast-tracked development of the Groves Literacy Partnerships. We always intended to provide online components that would focus on teacher training, coaching, and curriculum. Not surprisingly, these plans became immediate priorities.

This fall, we were able to launch these online components successfully. We are thrilled that our science-based curriculum helps students learn to read.

Online Experience Led to Greater Involvement

Who knew moving certain things online could make them better? Well, it did time and time again. We found virtual events allowed more people to participate.

Grandparents Day is among our most popular and well-attended events. To be safe this year, we converted Grandparents Day to an online event. The result was an astounding success. We experienced our largest turn-out ever. Being virtual allowed grandparents from all over the country to take part. It was a spectacular day, and the success inspires us to include virtual options in the future.

We also streamed our fall play, “Almost Maine.” The theater sold a limited number of in-person tickets that complied with social-distancing practices. They also streamed the performances online. Streaming allowed families to enjoy this magnificent performance.

Our community workshops shifted from in-person to virtual, and we began offering these as a free resource. Our workshops’ attendance and participation spiked dramatically, and we are currently evaluating new, fresh topics for future workshops based on participant feedback.

These virtual events broadened our footprint and expanded our community.

A New Staff Position Brings Greater Insights

Soon we will know more about the impact of our learning supports. Groves Academy recently hired a Manager of Data Analytics.

Groves Academy is uniquely suited to track students with learning disabilities. Few institutions can match our number of students, experience, and breadth of programs. We are a treasure trove of data collection opportunities.

We will benchmark the oral and reading proficiency of nearly 5,000 students. This data will show us how learning supports work over time. It can also provide insights into altering programs.

Looking Ahead to Spring

There’s no doubt that COVID-19 changed how we do things, but it has not changed our purpose. If anything, COVID-19 strengthened our resolve to deliver transformative learning experiences. The outcomes of COVID-19 could not have made our mission more clear—or essential.

These past months prove there is almost no challenge our community cannot meet. That said, we eagerly look forward to the return of in-person learning. Nothing can replace the power and importance of personalized learning. Until then, we move forward to empower young learners to be their best.

Looking ahead, we will still balance the health and learning needs of our students. We will also expand our focus to include other crucial topics. Groves Academy will partner with experts to open continuous dialogue around diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. These are important areas where Groves Academy intends to set a standard for excellence.

Fall 2020 has been a phenomenal experience in so many ways. It’s evolved Groves Academy for the better.

Thank you, students, staff, parents, and donors, for being part of this journey of accomplishments.

Groves Academy is a nonprofit educational organization with a clear purpose. Everything we do, we do with the goal of transforming lives through education. Through research and experience, we change how learning and literacy are taught. Doing this improves the lives of students with learning disabilities and attention disorders. From our school to the Learning Center at Groves Academy, we support neurodiverse learners.

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Daniel Morgan | President
Dan Morgan grew up in Madison, WI., and even after seven major relocations in the past 25 years, he remains a proud midwesterner. Upon completing his education at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Dan moved to San Diego, and launched right into his Education career. He was fortunate enough to be trained in Dyslexia and LD instruction and assessment by Patricia Lindamood, and spent the next 14 years at Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes working with students across the world, and across the whole spectrum of neurodiversity. In 2011, Dan shifted his career to Fusion Education Group and worked for more than 8 years developing and expanding their network of unique private schools designed for students who do not fit the traditional paradigm of education. Dan helped lead Fusion on an incredible growth trajectory, launching over 30 schools across the country in four years.
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