Learning Lounge launches virtual academic support

By Mike Kilen
GCU News Bureau

The Learning Lounge at Grand Canyon University has been quiet since the pandemic hit in mid-March. But on Monday it resumed academic support -- now virtually -- to students from second grade to 12th grade.

Shari Stagner, GCU's Director of K12 Outreach.

Seventy-five to 100 students per day were coming to its facilities at GCU and the Milwaukee Brewers' complex in Maryvale, and just as many can be served with a new virtual process.

"It's even more important now. We still have students who need support and the families are having to do more heavy lifting helping students with assignments since many are attending school virtually," said Shari Stagner, Director of K12 Outreach. "Now we are getting back to what we do. We are returning home."

Participants can register here for free assistance in reading, writing, math or science with a GCU student who has knowledge in each area. Twenty of those learning advocates, called LEADs, will do Zoom sessions with students who have signed up for 40-minute time slots (3-8 p.m. Monday-Friday and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday).

Families can select a LEAD from an expertise area and language skills. Additional LEADs will join the team when students return to campus.

GCU is not new to virtual efforts. LEADs assisted University students when ground classes were shifted to an online platform last spring.

The team also has worked virtually with students in Mesa and a school in California.

"We built a foundation for the concept, and we are now using it for the community at large," said Stagner, who added that it opens potential avenues for more remote academic assistance in the future.

An additional benefit is the chance for parents to be involved. Some parents who have limited English skills had asked to join their children in the past so they also could learn, which wasn't possible because of campus limitations. But now they can join sessions with their child.

"The parent can sit right there beside the child because it's at home and it helps them, too," Stagner said. "That will be a nice benefit by proxy."

Stagner has found that virtual academic assistance has not lost much in the transition, and strong relationships still can form via Zoom.

She said most students have internet access via computers or their phones, but an email address is required for registration, which the Learning Lounge can help set up if they don't have one.

Grand Canyon University senior writer Mike Kilen can be reached at [email protected] or at 602-639-6764.

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