Published on October 14, 2020 by Leighton Doores  
Jenna Rogers

When professors and students in Samford University’s Orlean Beeson School of Education were flooded with requests from parents asking for support with online teaching related to COVID-19, they felt called to respond to the needs of the community. To serve students, parents and teachers and benefit Samford students, professor of Teacher Education Amy Hoaglund developed a class project charging her students to develop a new community resource using Google Classroom.

Seniors in elementary education with a concentration in Christian education and missions developed “The Resource Center,” a free tool for any student, parent or teacher seeking additional resources that are complementary to school work ranging from kindergarten to sixth grade. The Resource Center divides material by subject and grade level for easy searching, with subjects such as English language arts, fine arts and movement, children’s literature, social studies and geography, math, Bible and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math).

“It is a win for everyone,” said Hoaglund. “Our students receive training in creating and organizing online resources, and families and schools in the community have access to quality materials. In addition, our students create very professional products throughout their time in the program. These products are interactive lessons and units. They could be charging money for others to use their work, but this website allows them to share their work with those who need it most- parents, teachers and, most of all, students.” 

The resources aim to provide well-rounded support, including one section dedicated to counseling/social emotional learning with strategies that a teacher would use in class to foster kids’ emotional health. This serves an even more important role now that kids are having to adjust to uncertain changes related to the pandemic. Parents or teachers with questions or a specific need can reach out directly to a Samford student by submitting an online form in The Resource Center.

Senior Jenna Rogers was approached by several parents who wanted her to teach a group of neighborhood kids or tutor during virtual school. She was excited to have an opportunity through The Resource Center to respond to some of those requests while also being a full-time student. She began sharing The Resource Center with Birmingham-area parents and teachers she had worked with in the past. Teachers can easily access an online lesson for a student who may be in quarantine or who opted for online learning.

Rogers and her classmates have uploaded numerous helpful lessons and videos. They have even created a “Celebrity Reader” section where you can browse videos of celebrities reading their favorite children’s book. Beginning next semester, junior teacher education students will continue the efforts to add resources through the end of the school year.

“One thing we have talked a lot about in class is not just teaching for the unknown student or a broad class, but we’ve talked about how important it is to prepare lessons and create videos with a purpose or to meet a specific need,” said Rogers. “We haven’t wanted to just upload to The Resource Center any random lesson or video we find, but we’ve been trying to target things that we think a student might really struggle with, or that a parent might struggle with explaining to their child.”

Hoaglund believes the class project is an accurate reflection of teaching in a real classroom that has helped prepare students to be adaptable in their careers.

“Our students need to be able to respond creatively to problems as they arise,” said Hoaglund. “The pandemic has turned education upside down. Our students are having to use critical problem-solving skills and out-of-the-box thinking to respond to the needs of students. That type of synergistic thinking prepares them for the classroom.”

If you’re a parent, student or teacher and would like to access The Resource Center, please fill out this Google form.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.