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Homesteaders are New York Tough!

By Dharma Villareal

At the conclusion of each daily press conference the Governor reminds us that we are New York Tough; he always explains that being New York Tough also means being smart, disciplined, unified, and loving. From my point of view this has been the essence of the Homestead School’s pandemic response. Homestead has gone above and beyond to transition to online education during this unprecedented and historic time.

In March 2020 our lives were changing at light speed and no one knew where the pandemic was leading. Before the sudden New York State stay-at-home order was issued, the Homestead staff were preparing their transition to online learning. I expected online learning for my daughter’s 7th grade class to be perhaps weekly emails giving the students homework assignments. Who could handle all the effort, thought, and energy that had to go into a big technological shift during this crazy time?!!

However, shortly after classes began, I looked over my daughter’s shoulder and found her teachers video streaming live lectures, demonstrating math on a whiteboard, and holding group discussions on Shakespeare! Even permaculture was still on the schedule; a teacher held a class discussion while he video streamed his work with plants and soil inside the biodome!

I saw the students in groups laughing and carrying on like all kids do…and should. Even some evenings I find students online helping one another with homework assignments. (One night I was even pulled in to help them with a geometry problem…and I succeeded, completely amazed that I remembered geometry!) And as usual, I hear all about her school day at the dinner table. Connection, community, and learning continues at Homestead and at home. It gives me the peace of mind to see her education and social interaction moving forward in this very uncertain time.

When the Homestead transitioned online, their steadfast effort appeared effortless. I am amazed at the thought, care, determination, and mastery that their transition to online learning produced and sustains.

My hat’s off to the whole Homestead Staff and student body who demonstrate what it means to be New York Tough, Smart, Disciplined, Unified, and Loving. Thank you.

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