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Project Thrive helps students with remote learning

By Nathan Tsukroff

LEWISTON – The combination of remote learning and in-person classes can be hard for children to navigate.

And it’s even harder for their parents, who are working full-time jobs while trying to help with school work and homework.

That’s where the remote learning center called Project Thrive tries to make a difference.

Sadie Landry, the founder of Project Thrive, a remote learning center in Lewiston, works with Owen Blackwood, a first-grader at Farwell School, and Abigail Woso, a second-grader at Geiger Elementary School. (Tsukroff photo)

Working with the hybrid model of schooling in the Lewiston school district this year, Sadie Landry of Pelletier’s Karate Academy, now provides support and guidance for students during their remote learning days through Project Thrive.

“We help them with their Zoom (sessions), with their remote lessons . . . get them to get their work done and pass it in,” Landry said. “But then we also have extra-curricular activities. We have art, we do music, we do karate, we do yoga. We do these extra things with the kids in between, to keep them structured, stimulated and keep them learning.”

The school hybrid model has students attending classes in person two days a week, with remote learning the rest of the week. This created a strain for many parents, Landry said, as they juggled work with the need to help with schooling.

Another issue in the spring, when schools first shut down because of restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, was the lack of devices for students to use for the remote schooling, she said. That issue was resolved this fall when the school district was able to issue laptop computers or tablets to all the students.

Landry worked to obtain licensing as a daycare center at the karate academy building, at 1 Taylor Hill Rd, just off Main Street on the north side of Lewiston. The building received emergency temporary approval as a daycare under the pandemic conditions, and an inspection from the Lewiston fire department has approved the facility for up to 50 students at a time.

 With the Lewiston schools dividing student into two groups, or cohorts, one group attends school Mondays and Tuesdays, while the other is at school Thursdays and Fridays. Both cohorts have remote school on Wednesdays. Project Thrive provides help with remote schooling for students on the two days they are not in the regular school building, with each cohort attending for a half-day on Wednesday.

Landry said she came up with the concept for Project Thrive, then had help from Millie Barnard of Lewiston to bring the project to life. “I just knew that we had a lot of need in the community. And I knew that I had a lot of friends that just struggled in the springtime, and basically their kids weren’t doing anything,” she said.

Gracie Brownlee, a fourth-grade student at Montello School in the Lewiston school district, works on homework during a remote learning day at Project Thrive in Lewiston. (Tsukroff photo)

 “For me, here at the karate school, we were able to have some karate classes during the day” in the spring, Landry said. “But then when school started, I knew I was going to lose that. And then I thought, well, I could do like a learning center for kids, and then I started talking with Millie about it and kind of came up with the whole thing.”

Barnard has worked as a substitute teacher and brings that expertise to Project Thrive.

Although the building is approved for a multitude of students, Landry said she would prefer to limit attendance to about 15 students per session, in order to give them the attention they deserve. There are currently only about eight students in each of the cohorts at Project Thrive.

Besides Barnard, staff at Project Thrive include Barnard’s sister, Grace Kidd, plus Justin Roundy and Emma Jacques. Staff members are paired off and stay with their own cohort.

Jace Sinard, a first-grader at Farwell School in Lewiston, works on a homework project with support from Project Thrive staff member Millie Barnard on a recent remote learning day. (Tsukroff photo)

Per Almquist, a longtime instructor at the karate academy, has taken on the administrative duties for Project Thrive.

Parents who are interested in enrolling their child or children in Project Thrive may contact Pelletier’s Karate Academy at 207-786-3731.

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