When Learning is Everywhere: Adapting to COVID and Beyond

When Learning is Everywhere: Adapting to COVID and Beyond


How have educators coped with the challenges that COVID-19 brought to their institutions? To address that question, Northeastern Seattle Campus Dean Dave Thurman brought together local Pacific Northwest leaders, Dr. Susan Enfield and Dr. Kevin McCarthy, to discuss the new challenges created by the pandemic and adapting to COVID. Explore insights from both educators in the following excerpts or listen to the entirety of the discussion in the podcast below.  

Dave Thurman: Dean & CEO of Northeastern University’s Seattle campus
Dr. Susan Enfield: Superintendent, Highline Public Schools
Dr. Kevin McCarthy: President, Renton Technical College

Dr. Susan Enfield is the Superintendent of Highline Public Schools, just south of SeattleShe aims to create an equitable school system through the promise to know every student by name, strength and need. Due to COVID, this promise has been made more difficult, but also more important. 

I would say the biggest challenge was the quick pivot that we all had to make without a dime of preparation, – Susan said. 

Although the sentiment is familiar, the extreme pivot schools, and society at large, had to enact presented unique problems. A priority for Susan was ensuring the students’ basic needs were met so that they were able to engage in remote learning. In the podcast, Dr. Enfield explains how she accomplished this, looking out for both her students and her staff. 

Dr. Kevin McCarthy is the President of Renton Technical College.They faced similar challenges during pandemic at Renton Tech. Kevin, and others working at this school, had to find a way to provide a “different but not lesser” way to teach. Unfortunately, the pandemic caused a loss in enrollment due to overwhelming challenges the students had to face. A majority of the students at Renton Technical College are working parents, making it very difficult to manage work, school and children during those times. Likewise, staff had their own challenges to face: balancing the demands their personal lives while still providing high-quality service to their students.  

“One of the big challenges is managing expectations and ambiguity”  Kevin said.

 The leadership teams had to prioritize the social and emotional well-being of everyone in their school. The digital divide was compounded by relationship divide. To ensure students’ well-being, it was important to show certainty in such an uncertain time. Increased collaboration, even online, continues to improve the situation, working toward a better community.  

Methods of work have changed for everyone, and leaders expect that changes may still continue post-pandemic. Some thrived in the workfromhome environment and others are eager to get back in office. The best solutions for all staff moving forward are still a work in progress, but hybrid options are now being considered. 

Hear further discussion on adapting to COVID and many more in the below podcast now. What silver linings came with the pandemic? What lessons have been learned through this process? Find out in: When Learning is Everywhere: Adapting to COVID and Beyond

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