Johnston County dad creates online learning office for daughter at his business

Local News

CLAYTON, N.C.(WNCN)- Megan Jenkins started middle school on Monday, but she’s never actually been to her school.

Her first day is about getting used to a new way of learning. It’s also about getting used to a new kind of classroom.

“They got this office for me. It used to be their kitchen and so it’s been not hard (to do classwork here) because the door’s closed. It’s helped,” she said.

Her new classroom is tucked away at her dad’s Nationwide Insurance office in Clayton. Brian Jenkins runs the business and only has one other person in the office. They moved the kitchen to a new part of the building.

While there are still some appliances, the space is now a dedicated classroom for his daughter. She can close to the door or call for help if needed.

“Her education has to come first, above everything. She’s 11. She’s in sixth grade. We want to make sure she doesn’t get behind. She’s got two advance classes,” Brian Jenkins said.

Like many parents, he didn’t have many options. His wife’s place of work does not allow employees to bring children. The only other feasible option would have been leaving Megan home alone.

“We really didn’t want to do that, just having her there at the house sitting in front of the computer,” he said.

He said having her at the office was a good compromise and an option he knows many families don’t have. Megan said based on her virtual classes, it appeared all other students were at home.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing. A missing class link meant Megan missed a lesson on the first day. It was not related to issues the North Caroline Department of Public Instruction was seeing with NCEdCloud.

Brian and Megan both said learning how to use Google Classrooms was a learning curve.

“This first week of school will serve as an orientation and transition week for our students. Please note that while this week will serve as a time for students to get acclimated to the virtual setting, attendance will still be taken daily,” the Johnston County school district stated on its web page.

“My favorite part is that you don’t have to get up and get dressed if you don’t want to. You could just wear your pajamas,” said Megan. On the downside, she missed interacting with her friends in person, without the lag of a virtual call.

While they are a close family, her father hopes it is not a permanent arrangement.

“Well, we he hope she’ll back in the classroom” he said.

Megan said she would prefer to be back in the classroom as well.

“I hope we’re not doing this for much longer,” she said.

Right now, the district plans include virtual learning for middle and high school students. Grades K-5 are on campus in two separate cohorts that alternate days on campus. Both groups are off campus Wednesday. The district said in the plans, Wednesday would be used for deep-cleaning.

Click here to read more on Johnston County school’s reopening plan.

Megan is not just seeing changes in her education, there are also changes to her extra curricular activities. She is on a competitive cheer squad and said she and teammates now have to wear a mask to practice. She said it can be uncomfortable at times.

She said the organization is considering taking their next competition virtual. She and her father said differences in technology available and the quality of broadcasted videos were of major concern.

Much like her schooling, the future of those competitions is up in the air.

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