Chuck Fleming knows about the power of teamwork. As director of Olympic Academy, he was eager to welcome students back in-person this fall.
The students who attend Olympic Academy are in particular need of in-person instruction. As students with high needs for social/emotional and behavior supports, the structure of school is critical to their success. The program, now in its second year, serves kids from first through twelfth grade.
“The kids here are amazing,” says Fleming. “They work so hard.”
The 21-student program operates within Lewis County’s Phase 3 guidelines. Fleming and his staff worked over the summer to get Olympic Academy ready to reopen. They moved furniture out of classrooms and stocked up on personal protection equipment. They planned changes in the day without sacrificing what students expect from school. Lunch, recess, the student store — all still happening. It looks different, but the familiar elements of a school day are still there.
Reopening was a team effort. Staying open is no different. “The kids have been doing a great job with wearing their face coverings and physical distancing,” says Fleming. “They understand that they are a big part of us staying open.”
The skills learned in the 2019–20 school year are the foundation for this year’s success. “The kids were excited to get back to school and have fallen into the great habits they built,” says Fleming.
Ultimately, it’s the team that makes it all happen. Fleming credits his staff with the success of the program. “I have not worked with a better staff in my entire career as an educator,” he says. “The joy and acceptance that they meet our students with changes the kids’ lives.”