In September and October of 2020, all seemed too much. We had been pushing and continuing through what seemed to be an endless uphill battle. We had received so much but now that we were in the day to day grind, it was tough. Each day, new challenges would arise.
As we were figuring out how to be a virtual learning facility, the teachers and schools were also trying to figure out how to teach virtually. We learned about programs we’d never heard of before like: “Lexia”, “Dreambox”, and “Zearn”. We learned how to navigate the canvas page of each individual student - every teacher, even within the same grade, had a different setup. The learning curve was steep!
The other huge hurdle was the mental health of our staff and students. Because of the pandemic, as well as political strife in our country, the stress and anxiety was palpable. These children were soaking up all the stress that was being felt by their parents and even us as we were navigating this new program. The smallest problem could cause a major meltdown. On one of the first few Wednesdays we had one first grader crying on Zoom because she was tired and just didn’t want to be on the call anymore.
But finally, slowly but surely, light began to peek in.
How could we have so quickly forgotten the assurance we had received just a few months before?
Amazingly, even in our doubting, God was about to show up for us again in ways we could never have imagined.
“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”
As the school year began, even though it was incredibly difficult, we began to see God’s hand at work as He continued to lead us in His way:
We received a grant from the Community Foundation of the Ozarks! The money came in a matter of days after our application was approved. We were able to purchase the plexiglass dividers we desperately needed as well as air purifiers for each classroom to keep our students and staff safer. We also used this money to purchase PPE for our staff.
Ryan Dooms and the East Grand Church of Christ youth group allowed us to use their space as our classrooms. They helped us move their furniture downstairs to a new area and helped us move our tables and chairs upstairs!
Jeff Sikes and his friend Clarke built us a temporary wall that allowed us to use a large space above the gym and separate it into two rooms for two different age groups.
Susan Barr, our Child and Adult Food Care Program (CACFP) representative, helped us to get connected to a catering company called Dining By Design. They provided affordable, wonderful lunches for us which was a HUGE relief to us. The first day of school we had fettuccine alfredo and breadsticks - yum!
We were able to hire incredible teachers that were willing to take this leap of faith with us in order to serve the community. I remember telling them in the interview, “I don’t really know what this is going to look like, but I know that this program is the right thing to do for the families in this community.” None of us really knew what we had committed to but the people that stayed and worked for me this entire year have been an incredible asset.
East Grand Church of Christ gave us a grant that relieved a lot of our anxiety as we were worried about the growing costs of hiring so many staff, the cost of food for the students, wifi, etc. It gave us a better sense of security as we went forward, still not really having any idea how much all this was going to cost!
These wonderful blessings came right when we needed them at the beginning of the school year! They gave us the faith and assurance we needed to continue forward with our program even though we knew we had a climb ahead of us...