WILLIAMSBURG COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - A former school counselor and teacher is hoping to fill the learning gap left by distance education.
Keyatta Oliver is a Kingstree native and mother of a child in the Williamsburg County School District.
She, like many parents, believe distance learning can be effective but is concerned it will not have the same results as face-to-face learning.
“Education is very important. It’s very, very, very important to our children. They should not be deprived of a great education opportunity because of a pandemic,” Oliver said.
Falling back on her teaching experience and utilizing her master’s degree in counseling, Oliver has decided to open the Infinite Hope Behavioral Health & Community Outreach Center in the heart of Kingstree. She says they are focused on providing a school-like setting for students learning online.
“They need the structure in order for them to stay productive,” Oliver said. “Plus, they need that peer-to-peer social and emotional support.”
Her tutoring facility will only be able to have five students at a time to accommodate social distancing. Students will be able to attend one of three daily sessions. Each session is three hours long and is designed to follow the school district’s curriculum.
Oliver says she is working with the school district to get access to the same digital materials students will use so they can help students with both the content and technology.
“If you started at home, then we are going to pick up where you left off,” Oliver said.
In theory, kids could do their distance learning from her facility.
“You have parents and non-traditional families that are not use to virtual at all,” Oliver said. “Let’s take grandparents for instance that raise children. They are not up to date with technology . . . it’s going to be very difficult for them because this is a new era for them. They’re not going to be able to help a child.”
The goal is to provide the physical, personal presence students may need to enhance understanding.
“Being in a group setting while social distancing allows them to not only to engage and discuss, but communicate and relate to their peers. Believe it or not, peers learn from one another,” Oliver said. “In the learning process, discussion and engagement are very important.
That is not to say virtual learning is devoid of discussion, but rather it is easier to facilitate without the extra noise of the internet.
Oliver is most passionate about literacy.
She says learning how to read and write may be especially hard for young kids working online. She says they will be able to tutor at any level with an emphasis on basic reading, writing and math skills.