First semester has Helena Elementary ready to finish the school year strong

By NATHAN HOWELL | Special to the Reporter  

HELENA — One of the biggest challenges over the past year has been ensuring that children are able to get a quality education in the midst of a global pandemic, whether by virtual or traditional learning.

At Helena Elementary School, principal Mary Anderson said the first part of the year was a learning experience that allowed them to grow and ensure that they were able to provide an excellent level of education then. Now, they know that’s possible as school has returned for the second half of the school year.

“Our first day back was very smooth as far as teachers and students go,” Anderson explained. “Overall the most hectic part was the new students coming to our school for the first time, or returning from virtual learning. That makes the mornings a little crazy, but it is the good kind of crazy, because they are here.”

Anderson said that over the last year, the teachers, staff and administration learned a lot about teaching students during the pandemic.

“I feel like everybody has kind of adjusted to it because it is a routine now, and I feel like it has made all of us better,” Anderson explained. “We are more flexible and understanding now. The teachers know that at the drop of a hat they may need to make changes to schedules or staffing related to things that may come up with the pandemic.”

So far, the staff has been very successful in managing every challenge that has come along with this year, which has allowed for them to have students return to traditional learning and new students come into the school for the start of the second semester.

“We have about 19 students that came back from remote learning to traditional learning, and we have had 14 new students come into our community this year,” Anderson said. “I can’t imagine not having school for them, and I can tell they are happy to be back.”

A big challenge that many have been concerned about is how students at this age might adapt to the changes that have been put in place to protect everyone’s health, but they are actually taking to them better than the adults.

“With wearing masks and social distancing, they are actually doing better than we do adapting to the changes,” Anderson said. “I feel it is part of their normal routine.”

Anderson noted that one of the most important parts of keeping the school running is the perseverance of her staff at HES.

“I feel great about my staff. My maintenance and custodial staff has done an outstanding job, and I know they will continue to do so,” she said. “The teachers are doing the very best they can with the circumstances that they have been given. I feel like we will finish the year strong.”

Overall, HES continues to provide their students with a quality education despite the challenges they face, and they are looking optimistically into the future.

“We may have had a few bumps in the road, but we will continue to provide our children with the best educational experience that we can,” Anderson said.