Successfully Serving in a Diverse, Rural Community

Beardstown Community School District has faced some unique challenges because of COVID-19. One might think that a rural district in Central Illinois with 1,600 kids is fairly routine. However, the families in this district use over 22 languages! Superintendent Ron Gilbert says that with such a diverse community, communication is tricky, and always has been. But that challenge hasn’t stopped the district from providing food to its students during the pandemic.

By using a newly implemented translation messaging service, teachers and district staff can send out messages to families to inform them about virtual learning updates and send reminders on the ongoing food distribution.

Beardstown is providing grab and go meals at sites, and with funding from No Kid Hungry Illinois, can continue providing delivery to students in rural areas miles away from all their distribution sites.

Flexibility has been crucial as Beardstown reacted to staff that had potential exposure to the virus. They went from a blended teaching model to fully remote and back to blended learning multiple times, requiring incredible agility by teachers and staff, including the school foodservice team. While some people may feel overwhelmed dealing with all these changes, at Beardstown, that’s not the case. When looking to the future, Mr. Gilbert said he is not too concerned. “By the time you get through the school year, you’ve put a lot of time and effort into keeping things going. I think we will be able to adjust just fine to whatever comes our way.” We are so glad to hear he is hopeful and knows his district is ready to adjust, no matter what happens in the future. They certainly have a lot of practice adjusting!