It’s no time to stop… Elizabethton City School director encourages everyone to stay the course

Published 5:08 pm Friday, April 17, 2020

Elizabethton City School director Dr. Corey Gardenhour is no different than almost any other director, parent, student, or educator throughout the nation as COVID-19 has brought on so many drastic changes and decisions that it’s almost like stepping off the Dizzy Disc at Dollywood.
It’s enough to make one’s head spin.
However, Dr. Gardenhour believes that Elizabethton like many other small communities throughout the country is resilient enough to do what it takes to make sure the kids are going to be taken care of no matter what.
“I believe our community is resilient to any issue that comes up because it is close-knit, and everyone is willing to help each other,” Dr. Gardenhour said on Friday. “The process of increasing the capability to finish the semester out online has been challenging.
“We have tried to enhance and help families navigate to help deliver content online. The goal is to work out any kinks that we have now to establish a stable platform and ready to start the fall semester online if that is the case.”
Probably one of the hardest things that Dr. Gardenhour has had to address from an emotional standpoint is how to address graduating seniors to make sure they receive their just recognition for completing the K-12 educational experience.
“It is evident that every employee in the Elizabethton School System loves the children, and any interruptions cause them to be concerned about the health and well being of the student,” added Dr. Gardenhour. “We are making plans to modify graduation and hope to announce the plans next week.
“We would try to have a traditional graduation ceremony in late summer, if at all possible, so the students will have the experience together. We want students to feel they have the ability to chase their dreams.”
Even with the closing of classroom instruction, the school system is working hard to complete assignments given to students to complete while at home.
The task may have gotten a little harder with word that school would not return to its normal setting but the director believes that if parents will continue to remain committed, driven, and most importantly positive that their students will benefit greatly by completing the remainder of the lessons.
“I would like to think that this situation allows us the opportunity to expand what we know about education. I want to encourage parents to stay positive and focused on helping continue remote learning online,” continued Dr. Gardenhour.
“The ECS website, Facebook, and the COVID website provide online learning activities for students during this time. Any extra activities to help stimulate the minds of the students during the remote learning process will help them stay focused on learning.
“We understand times are tough for families during this time due to losing jobs, furloughed, sickness, and stress. I want to encourage you and your families to stay physically and mentally healthy by finding outdoor activities or hobbies to reduce stress during this time.”
Dr. Gardenhour was also asked about the current feeding program and whether it would continue.
“We are currently waiting on guidance from the USDA and state about the feeding program,” commented Dr. Gardenhour. “As of now, we plan on continuing the program through the originally projected full last day of school on May 22, 2020.
“We are also working on the ability to provide a summer feeding program. We will send out an update if the opportunity becomes available.”
With such a long term of separation and being socially distanced, many adults are beginning to go just a little bit stir crazy.
The director was asked if there was a concern from a mental standpoint for children who have been staying at home and unable to react in a social environment such as school as well as participating in sports and other programs offered while the students are on campus.
“During this time, when we are separated and not able to engage in social activities, I do worry about the mental health of everyone,” stated Dr. Gardenhour. “Before online learning took place, ECS put the Stop It app in place to help with bullying by informing students and families about how to use it.
“If you feel a child is being abused or neglected during this time, please reach out to DCS and voice your concerns. Access to many resources in this area, such as the Charlotte Taylor Center(423) 547-5950, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255, and Contact 211 are available for families.


Lastly, Dr. Gardenhour wanted to give a word of encouragement to all families.

“I want to encourage families to be patient. Many first responders and dedicated professionals are working diligently to keep our community informed and safe.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“I want to encourage you to spend time with your family to find healthy ways to alleviate stress during these tough times. If you have concerns, the principals at each school are just a phone call away and would like to help in any way possible….Dr. Gardenhour”