Connections: Linking Talented Educators
Connections: Linking Talented Educators

COVID-19 Diaries: Good Morning, Rocky Ridge!

March 25, 2020

When Dr. Dilhani Uswatte (AL '09), the principal of Rocky Ridge Elementary School in Hoover, learned on March 13 that her school was going into "emergency mode" because of COVID-19, she reminded herself to focus on leadership. "We are in entirely uncharted territory now," she told fellow Milken Educators during a recent Zoom meeting. Step one was finding a way to connect with students now learning at home, as well as the parents stepping into teachers' shoes.

And that's how "Good Morning, Rocky Ridge!" was born. Dilhani conscripted her two sons to help her record the 10-minute "broadcast" on her phone (they weren't thrilled, but their mom told them it was part of "Uswatte Academy"). She edited the video in iMovie, posted it on YouTube and distributed the show through the school's communication channels. With several costume changes, distinct segments and a very elegant wooden spoon microphone, Dilhani reviewed the basics of social distancing and reminded students to respect their caregivers, conserve toilet paper and check their Google Classrooms for assignments and messages. A Google Form allowed students to submit questions, updates and shout-outs to their friends and teachers.

Rocky Ridge continues to find creative ways to use technology through this trying time. Dilhani plans another broadcast soon, with an online talent show and digital museum of student art in the works.

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