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During the pandemic, more than half of states nationwide closed their schools’ doors early for the year. With the transition to online learning, many parents found themselves unable to sub-in for teachers, answering questions in subjects from sixth grade algebra to high school physics, adding further stress and concern to an already difficult situation. 

As a solution to the stress of unanticipated homeschooling, the team at Rockford Construction in Grand Rapids, Michigan, turned to an internal resource in order to help seamlessly transition the children of employees from the classroom to the couch. And what better resource than the team at Rockford Construction itself?

Rockford Construction banded together to create a tutoring platform—a Zoom version of “Schoolhouse Rock”—for team members and students to engage in real-time education. 

With more than 300 employees working remotely, many of whom are parents at home with children, the idea developed naturally, says Jennifer Boezwinkle, executive vice president at Rockford Construction. “As leaders in our community, we are just as responsible for all surrounding students as we are for our own employees,” she says. “These students are imperative to the future of not only our industry but so many more.”

Capitalizing on their abundance of subject matter experts, the Schoolhouse Rock system is an ode both to the intellect of the employees hired by Rockford Construction and to their dedication. Employees commit to one of 15 subjects they know well (e.g., math, English or Spanish) and answer pleas for assistance on their own recognizance. If an in-depth assignment becomes too complex, coworkers will chime in via email for support or join the video chat. 

The program is a resource for Rockford team members as well, and allows children at home to gain access to materials and perspectives they are missing from their ordinary school programs. 

“For example, one student needed a desk and put an ask out to the group,” Boezwinkle says. “As a result, there was a contact-free exchange of a table for the student to take home and use.” Similar collaborations via the tutoring portal for technology needs have taken place, ensuring that families are able to provide their children with the highest-quality education available, all via Schoolhouse Rock. 

“With the success of the program—and uncertainty of the next school year—we are eager to continue supporting students to ensure they remain on track,” Boezwinkle says. In fact, the program has been so assistive that Rockford Construction is considering installing it as a permanent fixture, even after normal schooling resumes. 

And although the tutoring system is for employees of Rockford Construction only, Boezwinkle is willing to assist other companies with building their own internal education procedure so that they, too, can rock. “At a time when resources are so limited, Schoolhouse Rock has given our team a further purpose to help support others in a meaningful way,” Boezwinkle says. 


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