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Sturbridge, Massachusetts – Old Sturbridge Village (OSV) with the support of bankHometown based in Oxford, Massachusetts, in response to urgent needs brought on by the pandemic, has created a “One Room School House” learning pod for children in the museum community. The innovative program serves children of Old Sturbridge Village and Old Sturbridge Academy employees impacted by disruptions to in-person school learning. There is no cost for staff children to attend the School House. The program takes place in the Village’s modern, well-equipped Museum Education building and operates Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., following the academic year schedule. COVID-19 safety protocols mirror the rigorous standards followed by Old Sturbridge Academy and approved by the Sturbridge Board of Health for in-school learning.

The program addresses the following priorities:

  1. It saves jobs:
    • Old Sturbridge Village and Old Sturbridge Academy staff with children are able to continue working regardless of the status of in-person or remote learning imposed by schools.
    • Museum educators who ordinarily are busy leading school field trips, instead staff the One Room School House. (With the loss of field trips, museum education jobs were in jeopardy.)
  2. It benefits children:
    • Academy teachers are able to remain in their classrooms for the full school year, providing continuity for their predominantly high-need students.
    • Staff children in Kindergarten to Grade 9 who have been learning remotely, now receive critical socialization, outdoor physical activity, assistance with school work, arts education, and engagement in exciting museum activities.
  3. It models responsiveness and innovation
    • The One-Room School House serves as a model to other cultural and educational institutions for how to creatively respond to community needs.

Old Sturbridge Village is a living history museum depicting life in the 1830s, so the concept of a one-room school house ties in with the Village’s programming. An early New England school house consisted of various age groups, with older children often helping the younger children. Similarly, the model the Village has put into place today, has students working in two or three mixed-age groups of approximately ten students in each group. In the mornings, children will work independently on their own district-led Virtual Learning, using their own electronic devices.

“The younger students spend up to three hours daily on school work, while older students may spend up to five. In the afternoons, they enjoy museum-based Experiential Learning Activities, working in multi-age groups in the Museum Education building and throughout the Old Sturbridge Village campus to complete projects and activities,” said Emily Dunnack, Director of Museum Education. Dunnack went on to say, “Varied activities include daily physical activity, art and nature programs, and access to the Village’s historic buildings, interpreters and natural areas. Some children learn to stitch a quilt, others work with village interpreters to harvest and preserve produce for winter or to plant a garden in the spring. Younger children are paired with older students, their ‘Reading Buddies,’ to help increase literacy and interpersonal skills. Every day we offer different opportunities for learning and playing.”

“bankHometown is thrilled to partner with Old Sturbridge Village on the One Room School House, because we believe strongly in the value of education and in the Old Sturbridge Village experience to help young people in our communities unlock their full potential,” said bankHometown President and CEO Robert J. Morton. “We are impressed with the innovative approach to this project, which will help preserve jobs, provide a high quality, in-person educational experience for participating students, and keep Old Sturbridge Village a relevant and sustainable organization.”

“Old Sturbridge Village is proud to offer this innovative program without cost to our museum and Academy families. The impacts will be far reaching and long lasting for both the children and the adults’ involved.” said Jim Donahue, President and CEO. “We as an organization are proud of that fact that we were able to find a solution to what many families are struggling with due to no fault of their own.”


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