Teachers and students return to the intimate atmosphere that supports caring relationships and academic excellence at Vistamar School.
- Written byLaura L. Watts
- Photographed byCW Productions
Schools across the U.S.—and the world—were hit hard with the COVID-19 shutdown. So it’s no surprise that teachers and students at Vistamar, an El Segundo high school, have been eager to return to brick-and-mortar school and were thrilled when Vistamar reopened on April 12. After more than a year of pandemic-forced school closures, even the hybrid schedule implemented by faculty and staff for safety reasons was an improvement from only seeing each other virtually.
“It’s been great to be on campus and build more emotional connections than we can do over Zoom or via text,” shares student Samantha O. Art teacher Neal Von Flue agrees: “It’s great to be teaching in person and work hands-on with students again, and it’s also great just to have the chance to communicate more effectively and spontaneously.”
“Our students and teachers haven’t missed a beat as they transition back to in-person learning, and our community is stronger than ever.”
Vistamar adapted quickly to the shutdown. Teachers creatively reimagined their classes, sending students a wide range of materials to work with at home—from art supplies to lab materials. Student clubs and leadership activities were held over Zoom or were able to collaborate outside. Theatre and music performances were presented online as were school-wide events. Sports team conditioning practices continued to be held outside. Vistamar’s upcoming major theatre production will be presented live and in person, outdoors with social distancing guidelines.
“Throughout this pandemic, our teachers maintained high academic standards, embraced new technologies and teaching methods, and made themselves readily available for students,” says head of school Chris Bright. “However, we are thrilled to be back together and teaching, learning and building community again in person. The upgrades we made and technology we added for strong remote teaching have positioned the school even more strongly for the future.”
Math teacher Elle Wong notes the benefits of being back in the classroom. “So much of our teaching and learning in math is hands-on—focused on critical thinking and investigative skills. So something as simple as being able to use the classroom whiteboards again and see our students learn by problem- solving and collaborating in the classroom really boosts their confidence in their own abilities. I am so happy to be back!”
Teachers and students alike continue to express that being back together again in person not only enhances the learning but also the bonds they have with each other. “Forming relationships with our students and being able to take these across the border of screens has been really rewarding,” notes humanities teacher Annie Thompson.
“Watching students learn, watching the joy of learning through their eyes in person again reminds me why I became a teacher in the first place,” shares Shanon Tabata, science teacher and department chair. Her students, Wren K. and Thomas R., echo the advantages of in-person learning: “It’s so much more motivational to be in person in the classroom.”
“We are hopeful for the future,” Bright shares. “Our students and teachers haven’t missed a beat as they transition back to in-person learning, and our community is stronger than ever—despite a year of remote operation. Seeing students on campus now, it’s hard to tell that they weren’t together for the past year.”
737 Hawaii St., El Segundo | 310-643-7377 | vistamarschool.org