Since 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic brought the entire world to a screeching halt, online learning has taken on new significance. Obviously all students were learning online at home throughout 2020 and well into 2021. And, after a bumpy beginning, the masses realized, “Hey, this online learning thing, when done well, can actually work!” Of course, for many students across the globe who had been homeschooling prior to the pandemic, online learning was already a pretty well-oiled machine. Especially here at Bridgeway Academy. And much of that credit can go to Jessica Curfman, our director of online learning!
In this Staff Spotlight, Jessica talks about online learning, what she does at Bridgeway, and much more!
Bridgeway Academy: What brought you to Bridgeway?
Jessica Curfman: In March of 2020, like everyone else in education, I was sent home to work. I realized that my work/life balance was nothing short of out of balance. I knew I needed to make a change to be able to spend more time with my family. I wanted a job that allowed me to share my love for Christ and remain involved in the field of education. God heard my prayer and led me to Bridgeway!
BA: What was your background/experience prior to joining Bridgeway?
JC: I earned two Bachelor’s of Science degrees from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, in Health and Physical Education as well as Physical Education & Sport: Athletic Training. I went on to receive a Master’s of Education in Education Leadership (Principal Certification K-12) from Shippensburg University.
From there, I taught health and physical education to kids in grades 6 through 12 for nine years, served as an online program coordinator for a year, and then went on to become Dean of Students for four years. I was also an assistant principal for three years.
BA: What do you think makes Bridgeway stand apart from the other homeschool academies?
JC: The family approach that Bridgeway provides. We have a unique collaboration between advisors, teachers, teacher assistants, and families to support the needs of the students. This partnership helps students to their future goals in a quality program.
BA: Can you summarize your role as well as some of the favorite parts/responsibilities about your position?
JC: My role allows me to help teachers grow in their role, which directly impacts student achievement. Anytime I help someone grow, get to interact with students, or take steps to solve a problem for someone…it’s been a great day.
BA: What favorite “moment” or memory stands out during your time with Bridgeway Academy?
JC: This speaks to the team mentality at Bridgeway. In the fall of 2020, we experienced significant student enrollment, which required the lead teachers and I to cover several open class sections. At the time, this was a challenge, but looking back, it fostered a foundation that impacted the program and our department for years to come. We were so short-staffed that while one person was finishing up another class, another would start the upcoming class and tag-team when the next person became available. Praise God we are not in that situation any longer.
BA: What is something you’ve accomplished in your time at Bridgeway Academy that has made you the most proud?
JC: I am so proud of my team of teachers and teacher assistants. They go above and beyond to help the students and families. We have amazing educators, and Bridgeway provides an opportunity for these individuals to touch the lives of learners around the world.
BA: As director of online learning, what would you say to parents who are considering one of our online programs? What are the benefits? What makes Bridgeway’s online learning superior to others?
JC: I would recommend this program to anyone who wants additional support in their homeschooling journey. Having a content expert (aka teacher) gives families a partner in their student’s education. The teachers provide a lesson that instructs more difficult concepts in an environment where students can highly engage with their peers. The live classes are recorded, which is an additional support to families outside of class. Another unique feature about our program is the teacher assistant, who helps to support the instructor and the students to maximize the benefit of the live class session.
BA: If you had to describe Bridgeway’s teachers in one word, what would it be?
BA: Many people–teachers, advisors, students, and parents–express how it feels like they’re all part of a larger Bridgeway Academy “family.” Has your experience here been similar? If so, how?
JC: When I first started at Bridgeway, I immediately felt like I was adopted into a family. Everyone was welcoming, helpful, and genuinely cared about me as an individual. These are the unstated expectations within our Live Online Class (LOC) department. We refer to the LOC department as a family and we function as such. We want our members to know they are valued, which then transfers to our students and families.
BA: What advice would you give to families who are considering choosing Bridgeway Academy as their homeschool partner?
JC: Communicate – never hesitate to ask questions and seek help. We are a program that wants to be a partner in each student’s education, and open communication is a key ingredient in this relationship.
Our many thanks to Jessica for taking the time to answer these questions–and a big thanks to all of Bridgeway Academy’s staff, academic advisors, and teachers for being there for families and students every step of the way. They are indeed, as Jessica described them, superheroes!
Bridgeway Academy offers a high-quality education in a variety of forms–online, textbook, self-paced, live classes, and more–as well as the flexibility you need. Call us today at (800) 863-1474 to learn more and see why so many families trust Bridgeway Academy with their child’s education.