When the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak forced Wake STEM Early College High School to switch to online classes, Amber McGregor knew she needed to find a new way to advise and mentor her students.
As the liaison between Wake STEM Early College High School and the NC State College of Education, McGregor works to support students through counseling, academic advising, course instruction and course placement. When Wake Stem Early College High School moved online, she did, too, transitioning her tutoring and academic advising to a virtual format.
“This allows me to connect with my students face-to-face during this quarantine,” said McGregor. “I have also implemented virtual drop-in hours. This is available to all of my students who may just want to ask me a quick question about their classes, registration or just want to see a friendly face.”
Students who attend Wake STEM Early College High School earn a high school diploma and up to two years of college credit over the course of a five-year curriculum that focuses on the sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics. Right now, teachers at the school are offering both tutoring and support for both high school and college courses.
“The transition, although different, hasn’t been difficult,” said McGregor. “Our students are experienced in taking online courses using various technological platforms. They have risen to meet this challenge and are performing well academically.”
McGregor teaches ED 103: Introduction to University Education at the high school. In the class, she emphasizes the importance of time management and taking care of their mental and physical health, which she said has never been more important.
“I tell students to protect their mental health by taking breaks, going on walks, working on their hobbies and connecting with their friends through social media,” McGregor said. “They understand that if their mental health is not up to par, then how they perform academically will suffer.”
McGregor said even under less than ideal conditions, working with the students has been great.
“I am very blessed to work with talented, passionate and resilient high school students,” said McGregor. “They have made this transition seamless.”
It’s no surprise McGregor and the other educators who work at Wake STEM Early College have found success connecting virtually with their students. In 2019, the school was named the best secondary magnet school in the nation. McGregor said she has been impressed by all of the educators who have found a way to be there for the students, even if it’s not in person.
“One thing that this virus and quarantine has shown is that educators will go above and beyond to ensure their students receive the support and resources they need,” she said. “I am proud to be one of those educators.”