The Stevensville United Methodist Church began tossing around the idea of developing an early learning center at the start of 2020.
“That was where we were headed,” said Pastor Sarah Merchant, “That, in turn, led us to a huge building project that will include six classrooms, have the capacity for 80 kids -- infants all the way up to 12-year-olds. It will be daycare, preschool, and after school programming.”
Providing a space for remote learning wasn't a part of the plan until it needed to be.
When schools began learning remotely in the spring, families were scrambling trying to find options when learning from home couldn't work, and the church knew that they had the space and the resources to help, so they pivoted.
“It really came to pass, like, this is what school is going to look like, and it's going to be difficult for families, and we can't have it be chaos like it was in March,” said Merchant.
So the church opened its doors to the community by offering a physical space for kids who need to learn remotely but can't do so from home.
“We’re setting ourselves up to be a licensed facility,” said Merchant, “That allows us to have about 24 kids per our square footage.”
Students from any school -- ages five to 12 -- now have the supervision, the space, and the safety protocol to learn remotely.
Merchant said this has been her congregation’s way of addressing an immediate need in the community.
“Our space is a gift. It is something that we're stewards of, and to have a building used for two or three hours on Sunday alone would be missing an opportunity and really missing the call of what we all offer.”
If you’re interested in having the Stevensville United Methodist Church as a remote learning option right now, or just for backup, you can reach them at 406-777-5443 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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