Northpoint learning

Northpoint Christian School first-grader Caroline Travillo is shown as she takes part in distance learning from her home. Northpoint students will continue distance learning through the end of the school year on May 15.

After one month, Northpoint Christian School officials are pleased with the progress of its remote learning program for students now learning at home.

Northpoint started remote learning on March 18, so students could continue the process while the Southaven school remained closed with the COVID-19 pandemic continuing.

Jim Ferguson, Northpoint Head of School, announced on Thursday, April 16 that remote learning would continue through May 15. Students are earning grades on work completed and submitted to their instructors. Quizzes and tests continue, along with preparation for upcoming AP exams.

“As an independent, private, Christian school, our parents have expectations for their students to receive a college-preparatory education,” Ferguson said. “While the work continues, it is important to make sure the learning is appropriate under pandemic circumstances that our families are facing.”

To gauge the school’s progress in meeting parental expectations, Northpoint issued a school-wide survey and received 401 parent responses or 41 percent of the surveys that were sent out.

Ferguson said he put a major focus on the answer to a question on the survey that asked if students are being challenged academically.

“Eighty-seven percent of NCS parents surveyed say their students are challenged academically in a manner that is appropriate for this season of learning,” Ferguson remarked.

That means the school provides a meaningful instruction at a time when parents may be concerned their students could be lacking in the future should they not get adequate instruction, Ferguson said.

“With this pandemic, it has really been a benefit to our teachers to have fewer students in their classrooms,” Ferguson noted. “They have been better prepared to give personalized instruction and greater attention to each of their students due to the lower teacher-to-student ratio Northpoint provides.”

It appears students are moving forward as if they were still in the classroom, according to some parental comments, all of which were submitted anonymously.

“My tenth grader continues to learn just like she is at school,” one parent wrote. “She just submitted her big chemistry project, (a Northpoint rite of passage), and she is reading and dissecting a book in her English class. Her PSAT class continues to have live meetings where the teacher is actively working problems and teaching students. I am beyond pleased.”

Northpoint officials said they are getting calls from parents of children not at the Southaven private school asking about the remote learning program.

“Our admissions office took a phone call from a first-grade parent (at another area school),” Ferguson said. “The parent wanted to know if NCS would admit their student and provide them with our remote learning they were hearing about. While we couldn’t admit their student this late in our school year, we did have one of our first-grade teachers provide resources and assistance to this inquiring parent. We very well may have a new student joining our NCS Family next fall.”

Northpoint teachers are using a program called PowerSchool Learning to track assignments and communicate with teachers, students, and parents, provide links to recorded instruction, live meetings, and other resources. Pre-Kindergarten, Junior-Kindergarten, and Senior-Kindergarten students are using faculty prepared packets, and keep in contact with their teachers through email and videos.

Feedback from the survey will be used in how the school plans for remote learning in the future, Ferguson said, and administrators are using the results to continue and improve remote learning. He says the school is planning for further school interruptions, should COVID-19 cause shutdowns next year as some officials suggest.

All NCS field trips, school trips, and mission trips have been canceled, but the school is finalizing plans to have graduation for seniors. The school also plans to recognize sixth-graders graduating from elementary school and plans to hold some form of academic and athletic awards programs. Logistics and exactly what these events will look like will be shared in the next few weeks depending upon local restrictions.

A virtual tour for prospective families to “see” the school is in the works. Required testing for admission is also being converted from in-person testing to “virtual testing.”