Adapting Learning and Support Resources to Meet Students’ Needs During COVID-19 Closures

Words like “uncharted”, “unprecedented”, “surreal” and “crazy” are inadequate to capture the current reality but amid the rapid changes, distress and uncertainty I am so humbled to tell you that our teams (Teachers, Counselors, Navigators, Leadership, IT, Finance, Human Resources, Facilities, Communications and Development) are working very hard, meeting the challenges and implementing our mission to support student and family success. Nearly all staff are working remotely, only those involved in basic needs support and other essential supports are onsite.

How we are helping:

The Norman Howard School

On day one of school building closures, The Norman Howard School transitioned to online learning. Online instruction was prepped and tested by students and faculty on Monday and fully implemented on Tuesday! Amazing faculty, students, family, leaders and IT are making this happen. From their own homes, our 110 students are continuing valuable class time with their own teachers and staff. Faculty and counselors are being asked today what they need to continue to make online instruction successful and we will do our best to ensure they have what they need.

Praise and appreciation from parents is profuse:

  • “As I listen to Ethan working, talking, laughing, being a teenager at ‘school’, I’m reminded how grateful I am for the Norman Howard community! At a time of uncertainty and confusion in our world, our kids have the unique opportunity to keep a connection and have a little normalcy. Thank you Norman Howard for not skipping a beat!”
  • “My other three kids watched longingly as Connor enjoyed a full day of education with his NHS family. Thank you!”


All staff are mobilized and teams are tackling challenges with students and families– both directly and remotely. With limited resources and existing barriers many of our families have been scrambling to address child care issues, others are now unemployed or are facing reduced work hours, and many are seeking guidance on how they support their families basic needs, academic needs and emotional needs.

  • Every student/family has received at least one contact to assess their urgent basic needs, academic support and technology needs.
  • Based on the needs assessments, teams have developed individualized plans to connect families with resources in the community.
  • We created private online communities for K-12 students and families using an app called “Band,” where specialized academic and enrichment programming continues dynamically.
  • In the days ahead, we will launch “EnCompass To Go,” a resources mini-site for students, families, and the broader community. Staff are curating and creating quality resources for sharing; we will expand and enhance interactive features as we progress. Take a look at the site in its earliest form: www.bit.ly/encompass2go
  • For students who don't have access to technology, we are developing hard-copy academic materials and getting these materials to families by mail, pick-up and delivery. As you know, many of our students have limited access to the internet, tablets, and computers – we are loaning what we have and seeking support to secure more devices!
  • Our check-ins with students and families will continue throughout this period on an ongoing basis, and each program has a schedule and a plan for tracking evolving needs.

Across our whole organization, out front and behind the scenes, staff are on point and amazing. Creativity and commitment seem boundless and we are supporting teams with what they need to equip students and families, to forge new pathways and to make connections that strengthen all of us as we meet whatever comes tomorrow.

Many have asked how they can help, and we thank you! As you can see our work continues and is even more critical than just one week ago-

  • We are inviting community members to become virtual Guest Readers. You are invited to read a book on video and it will be shared with students in our programs and community-wide – email Rebecca for instructions (rferri@e-sucess.org)
  • Your financial contribution will deliver urgently needed support to families (including food, basic necessities, and devices for remote learning), and will reinforce our organization’s ability to remain meaningfully connected to all of our students. A contribution may be made online www.educationsuccessfoundation.org/donate or please contact me.

Thank you for being a part of the Education Success Foundation family and for your support, your good wishes and your commitment to student and family success!

Joe Martino, CEO