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Distance Learning with the Family Home program

Like all parents this school year, Boys Town Louisiana had to decide if our residential youth should continue virtual learning, go back to physical school, or try a combination of the two. With up to 18 youth in our Family Home program at any given time all going to different schools, Boys Town Louisiana ultimately decided to proceed with distance learning this semester to prevent possible exposure to COVID-19. We did this to preserve the health and safety of youth and staff.

In general, youth aged 12-17 reside in our Family Home program (in other words, middle and high schoolers). Within these pivotal grade levels, students typically have eight different class periods. When schools suddenly closed in March, our Family-Teachers became full-time classroom educators and tutors overnight. They were challenged to design desk areas at home, balance various school schedules, and keep students focused. 

The challenges of the spring led Boys Town to recognize the need for additional support so that both students and Family-Teachers can be successful. We hired two Education Specialists specifically to assist our residential youth with distance learning. These staff members have teaching backgrounds and are able to assist youth with class assignments and homework. With extra support from the Education Specialists, the Family-Teachers can take turns supervising and offer individualized attention, allowing them the opportunity to take breaks.

On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, the Family Home Program meets at Boys Town Louisiana's New Orleans East office, which has enough desks and space for the youth to socially distance and be monitored relatively easily. Simulating a collective school environment also helps our youth maintain a routine and be social with other students their age. They have even started incorporating physical education and a book club during the school day! 

“As most of our youth come to us with some academic deficiencies, I started the book club to strengthen our youths' reading comprehension skills and help to expand their vocabulary," explains Family Home Consultant, Brandon Devezin. Several staff members have also joined the book club and get to spend more time with youth as fellow readers, as opposed to teachers.

They plan on reading short stories, with vocabulary as an added exercise; youth have to read the book but also define the words that they didn't know the meaning of. Their first story is “The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington," a fantasy and comedy.   

Interested in helping our residential youth in their learning? We are looking for volunteers to help simulate another part of school: the cafeteria! Specifically, we are looking for food donations to feed 15 youth and staff three days a week at our New Orleans East Office (6600 Plaza Drive, Suite 212, New Orleans, LA 70127). If interested, please contact Julia Turkevich:​.