Spirit’s Promise offers solution for back-to-work parents with a micro-school

Since its inception in 2010, Spirit’s Promise Equine Rescue has served as a rescue center for horses and farm animals. Now Spirit’s Promise wants to come to the rescue of parents of young schoolchildren.

In an offshoot of its typical business, Spirit’s Promise hopes to venture into the world of education.

Spirit’s Promise announced it has partnered with DXA Studios to offer parents the opportunity to create their own community-based micro-school or learning pod Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The micro-school would feature groups of less than 20 children who would be instructed by a staff member at Spirit’s Promise’s Riverhead farm off Sound Avenue. Students from kindergarten through grade 7 would meet in a barn set up like a classroom with desks, with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state safety protocols in place. Students could attend whatever days they like.

Spirit’s Promise program manager Dan Sierra said the venture would be an answer to the dilemma working parents face with child care and young children at home. He said: “I’ve had a lot of families that came up to me and they go, ‘Now that school’s opening up, I have to go back to work. What do we do? What do we do? What do we do?’ And I think most people understand that you can put a 7- or 8-year-old in front of a computer. It doesn’t mean they’re going to learn because we know it’s a hard time with virtual learning, especially for younger kids. So the reason why this came about is we’re trying to get some sense of normalcy for families.”

One of the several goats at the Riverhead farm. (Credit: Joe Werkmeister)

Students would wear face masks and be spaced at least six feet apart. High-speed internet would be available and staff would provide daily instruction, activities and lessons based on the students’ school work and distance learning curriculum.

Mr. Sierra said he has met with a couple of families that are interested. A minimum of six students would be needed to get the program running. “Once we meet the required minimum, then the program would start like ASAP,” he said.

The cost would be $30 per day for Spirit’s Promise members and $40 per day for nonmembers.

The students would be set up in this room, which on Friday had been arranged for a counseling service. (Credit: Joe Werkmeister)

In addition to a lunch break, students would have at least an hour of free time on the farm “so it’s not just all work, work, work, work,” Mr. Sierra said. “School is obviously the most important part but we know the kids need that interaction with other kids, and the animals, I think, play a big part in … making kids more relaxed in a time that is very uncertain right now.”

Spirit’s Promise has no shortage of animals. The 4-acre property is home to 14 horses, eight goats, two cows, two pigs as well as chickens and ducks. “So, when you think of old McDonald had a farm, it’s everything but sheep at this point,” said Mr. Sierra.

“At least parents know they have a place where they know their kids are supervised, they’re safe,” he continued. “Someone’s there to help them. We just want to take some pressure off of working parents right now.

“This is going to be the gateway to opening up new horizons, not just for us, but for the community.”

Watch out for the cow! (Credit: Joe Werkmeister)