RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Several northside families are coming together to make sure their children have a safe place to learn, creating a learning pod for elementary students.
“Our goal really was to try to create an enriching learning experience for our own sons,” explained TQ Evans. "We opened it up to other families and it has really taken off.”
TQ and Adam Evans have children of different ages, their youngest is in Pre-K and their oldest child at home is in third grade. TQ says several moms in the neighborhood decided to create a Pre-K pod at one of the families' homes.
The parents worked together to create a job description, they interviewed child care professionals, conducting background checks and creating family agreements as well as health forms.
While creating the Pre-K pod, they soon realized they needed to do the same for their elementary school children.
“We have all boys, a couple of other moms do as well," said TQ.
While thinking about who could lead the pod, it became obvious that Adam Evans was the perfect fit.
“We realized he brought many of the [perfect] skills, he has been in education for 15 years, he has a background in counseling, he is an advocate of talking about history from different cultural perspectives - he seemed like the perfect choice to run our pod,” she explained.
For Adam, the choice to lead the pod came after a decision to leave a career as a school administrator in Chesterfield County.
“It was almost like a call, maybe this is something I need to do. I can support my wife and others in the community people,” said Adam. "I chose family, it was hard, but at the same time it was easy.”
TQ has been facing medical challenges for more than a year, so remaining home, was the choice the Evans had to make.
The family helped create what is now called the ‘Northside Pod Life,’ which includes four boys in elementary school who are all RPS students.
Their day starts at 8:45 a.m. and the boys arrive for a snack before logging on for class at 9:15 a.m.
While the “pod life” follows the traditional RPS schedule, TQ and Adam say it offers supplemental educational opportunities for the boys.
“While there is a lot of structure, when there is not structure, we really like to let the students lead the learning and foster their curiosity,” she said.
The students participate in lessons about social justice, horticulture/urban farming, Black history and career development. They also focus on children’s social and emotional needs.
“[We’re] really trying to develop the whole child as much as possible,” said Adam.
As pod continues to strengthen, the Evans family is also hoping to create a nonprofit called Educate 4 RVA to provide additional support to families in the City of Richmond.
“We have been contacted by several families wanting to know how they can offer or create something similar in their communities,” said TQ. "We want to disrupt the preschool to prison pipeline. Here on the Northside, there are so many opportunities to provide learning and positive education as well as social opportunities to all kids, especially boys. The goal would be for this endeavor to take off to be able to support more students, more families in lots of ways.
Anyone interested in learning more or contacting the Northside Pod Life is encouraged to email educate4RVA@gmail.com.
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