NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — The Sound School in New Haven is unique in its ability to provide students with hands-on learning in different areas of curriculum. This year, their curriculum is completely remote due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so teachers have had to get creative.

They follow the guidelines for New Haven Public Schools – which does not include in-person lessons – so the teachers and staff have had to rework their lessons like many others around the state.

Phil Brencher is an instructor at Sound School and tells News 8, “In a normal school year, this class would be working in the shop, working on motors, doing waterfront facility repairs.”

Of course, being remote, none of that is happening this year. 

However, Brencher came up with an idea while collaborating with his students. Usually each year they build a dory (small, shallow-draft boat) for the freshman class. Instead, this year they calculated smaller dimensions and built model dories at home.

Each student had to build a dory, video themselves during the project, and write instructions to go along with the project. The project required a lot of materials, but Brencher got all of the necessary materials and tools and hand-delivered them to each of his students so they could participate in the project. 

Brencher tells News 8, “Boy, I miss the kids, I really do. We have a great student body. We’re on a first-name basis with all our students. They’re a great bunch of kids and I really do miss them.” 

Being remote hasn’t been easy on any of the teachers or staff members who miss the student interaction and the curriculum they are used to.

Principal Marc Potocsky tells me it’s even more challenging for their school because their hands-on curriculum is what makes them stand out: “Whether it’s out on the water, or in the greenhouse, or in our fish labs, it’s the reason people choose to come here.” 

Thankfully, the school is full of dedicated teachers like Brencher, giving students a valuable learning experience despite the distance between them.