Arkansas kid’s TV program looks to help battle learning loss from pandemic


CONWAY, Ark. – It’s no secret learning during the pandemic wasn’t easy and is having a lasting impact on students.

That’s why the Arkansas Department of Education is partnering with Arkansas PBS to create programming called Rise and Shine to combat that learning loss.

Whether it’s multiplication and division to identifying the planets in the solar system, teachers are taking the textbook to the silver screen

“We don’t want our kids to stop learning,” ADE Elementary and Secondary Deputy Commissioner Stacy Smith said.

ADE is partnering with PBS to create fun programming to help with learning loss during the pandemic.

“We do believe we probably have some pockets of students who disengaged maybe because they did virtual instruction versus showing up in person,” Smith said.

They identified the target areas students need help with the most.

“We covered science, literacy, math and social studies. I believe we’ve covered over 60 learning targets,” Arkansas PBS Director of Education Sajni Kumpuris said.

They’ve put the last six Arkansas Teachers of the Year in front of the camera and let them create episodes that engage students.

“We have one program called ‘Zach’s Lunch.’ We have one that’s called ‘When I was a Fifth Grader’ that deals with social-emotional learning. We also have ‘Robby Rocket’ which will teach you about the planets,” Kumpuris said.

Susanna Post is an alternative learning teacher in Fort Smith and recently named Teacher of the Year. She said she’s seen how the pandemic impacted kids not only in her classroom but at home.

“My third grader was so nervous to return to school because she missed two to three months of critical instruction. This isn’t just a certain segment of the population I think every child is feeling the anxiety,” Post said.

Talking with her kids, she came up with different ideas to make sure students want to turn on the tv.

“There’s puppets, there’s dancing, My youngest is six and I ran ideas by her like ‘do you think this is fun,'” Post said.

As the students watch some of their favorite characters, the goal is to make up some of what’s lost one episode at a time.

Rise and Shine starts airing Tuesday July 6th on PBS from 8:00 to 11:30 a.m.

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