Holbrook Indian School Adapts Distance Learning to Meet Students’ Needs

Newsdesk Holbrook Indian School Adapts Distance Learning to Meet Students’ Needs

By Faith Hoyt, with Diana Fish

Schools across the Pacific Union Conference adapted their method of instruction delivery over spring break and resumed classes via online instruction in early April. Among the schools making the switch to online learning was Holbrook Indian School (HIS), whose student population faced specific challenges with the transition to distance learning. The challenges, which include significantly less access to the internet, prompted teachers at Holbrook to take additional steps to support students during the stay-at-home order.

On March 25, the Navajo Nation issued a stay-at-home order, and on March 30th, the governor of Arizona announced that all schools will be closed through the end of the school year. For HIS, distance learning presented specific challenges to their students.

“There are many ways in which we interact with our students—classroom, Sabbath School and church, counseling, dorm life, Bible studies and mentorship, our student work program, mealtimes, and much more,” said Pedro Ojeda, HIS principal. “Our teachers, mentors, and counselors met and worked out plans to continue to provide as many of these activities and programs as possible. Only about 20 of our 72 students have access to the internet. This makes moving all learning to online mediums less effective.”

To meet the needs of their students, Holbrook teachers mail packets with weekly assignments to students’ homes and call each student to address questions and give instruction. Google Classrooms were set-up for students who have internet access. Additionally, counselors provide students with video or phone sessions. Mentors reach out to their mentees via email, phone, and social media to stay connected and help assess their needs, and the school posts photos and videos on social media to engage and encourage students.

They didn’t stop there, however.

“One mentor found out that their mentee’s family did not have enough food,” Ojeda said. “So, they bought and delivered groceries to the family. Other mentors’ video call their mentees to pray with and encourage them.”

Although HIS students are not on campus during the stay-at-home order, the school continues to run some of its operations, including the farm, maintenance, building projects, as well as the feeding and care of the school’s horses. The school custodian sterilized the campus so it will be ready when students return.

Click here to learn more about HIS and how you can help their students during this time.

Photo—top of page: Michelle, Holbrook Indian School music teacher, delivers her students’ homework for the week.


Veronica, Holbrook Indian School office manager, arranges envelopes for the students’ school packets that are sent out weekly.


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