“So happy to see you in person!” Spring 2021 hybrid in-school learning begins

Preschool, Young Fives, kindergarten, and small groups welcomed back Thursday and Friday; others return in stages after spring break

Photos, video and story by Jo Mathis/AAPS District News Editor

Rich Ellison was surprised to find himself so excited about his son’s first day in his actual kindergarten class Thursday morning, 

“It’s like we’re starting the year at the end of the year,” said Ellison, as Will sat beside him in the Pittsfield Elementary parking lot, eagerly awaiting the start of school. “We’re incredibly excited.” 

For the first time in just more than a year, AAPS buildings were opened, and the district welcomed preschool, Young Fives, and kindergarten students, and small self-contained classrooms of small groups of students in grades 6-12.

Will Ellison and his dad, Rich, were excited about his first day in the building.

Half of the students met in the classroom Thursday while the other half learned from home. On Friday, that will flip.

About a third of the district’s students have opted to remain virtual through the rest of the 2020-21 school year.

Will’s teacher, Beth Ballbach, said there have been some positives associated with virtual learning—including the deeper way she got to know the families and her students.

“It’s been hard and challenging but also amazing to get to know my kids in a different way,” she said. “I got to know their homes, their pets, and to meet their families in a way I never have before. I am so excited to have them coming in in person.”

She admitted she was nervous about the technology needed to simultaneously teach students connected on Zoom and those in the classroom.

“But we are going to get through it and it will be great to be in person again,” she said.

Beth Ballbach talks to her kindergarten students, who are meeting for the first time in person versus via Zoom.

The sound of children at play once again filled the Westerman Preschool and Family Center Thursday, and that’s music to the ears of  Assistant Principal Jo Ann Telfer.

“We are so excited to welcome all of our children back. This is the day that we’ve been waiting for, and as you can see by all the smiles on the kids’ faces, we are having a great time and look forward to many more.”

Jo Ann Telfer

Carpenter Principal Michael Johnson said the opening day was made possible with the love and dedication of the AAPS teaching and support staff, and that of supportive parents.

It’s at this moment that we realize and appreciate a deeper understanding of what it means to be educational partners. In what has been a cycle of seasons, I’ve learned a lot of valuable lessons, but none greater than the impact that a family can have when we truly work together. Ann Arbor Public Schools, we were made for this moment. Let’s go!”

Michael Johnson
The whiteboard in Shawn Davis’s Carpenter kindergarten class unites students in the classroom with him, and those learning from home.

More information about back-to-in-school learning information is available on the A2schools.org website, including:

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