By Jamar Thrasher
At the height of the pandemic, scores of Americans grappled with what was called the new normal. Businesses closed, and employees transitioned from offices to work from home roles. Every fraction of American culture was changed—even our school system. Students across America (and the globe) shifted the ways they learned to be healthy.
In response to this change, The Rock Church opened The Rock Church Learning Center. The center operates as a hub for students to receive guided instruction in a safe and loving environment. Currently, the center is accepting enrollment for students 8 to 13.
To date the center has 26 students. The center itself is not a school but provides a structured learning environment for students who need it. All families are invited to apply to register their students to enroll in the learning center. For more information, please see their website. www.therockchurchhbg.com/learningcenter
When students were mandated to work remotely, some students struggled with internet access and online learning altogether. Therefore, this widened educational gaps for certain students. Some students are also placed in unsafe and traumatizing home environments. Some parents had to choose between working a shift or staying home with minor children. This jeopardized the self-efficacy of parents and students.
“Students require environments that are loving and patient. At the learning center, students receive a challenging curriculum, smaller class sizes, and in-classroom learning support,” said Pastor Joshua C. Robertson, senior pastor at The Rock Church.
The Learning Center is inside the church building. The students are technically all remote students, but instead of working from their homes, they are working from within the church.
To accommodate the students, the church renovated its building. It refurbished its bathrooms and renovated their executive wing on the first floor of the church. To ensure the safety of all staff and students, the church updated its security protocol, sanitation efforts, and emergency response protocols.
Students receive love and guidance. Students are encouraged to work at their own pace and to take needed breaks, which is significantly different than the traditional model of school. Students are also encouraged to maintain and grow friendships.
“One thing that is unique about the Learning Center is the fact that bullying is essentially non-existent here,” said Pastor Robertson. While the center is open to families and students of all faith backgrounds, Pastor Robertson said that he leads the center with godly love. If a student has a behavioral problem, that student is redirected with love and perspective instead of the traditional way of handling student issues with detention, suspension, and other disciplinary actions.
Pastor Robertson believes in the Learning Center so much that he and his wife transferred their daughter and niece to the center when it opened.
“The lesson for all of the students is be the change you want to see. We are divinely placed in a neighborhood that needs us. We are blessed to be in a position to serve the children, which is exactly what we’ll continue to do,” Pastor Robertson said.