Camden Mom Talks Home Instruction: ‘It Taught Me to Identify their Strengths and Weaknesses’

By Steven Rodas
KIPP students Mha-Ki ,7 and his sister Azerionna, 13

KIPP students Mha-Ki ,7 and his sister Azerionna, 13

CAMDEN, NJ — While not ideal for Danielle Crudup, the mother of two Camden KIPP students, home instruction was something she took in stride.

It was March 13 when the renaissance school network shuttered its buildings in the city — in line with New Jersey institutions’ response to COVID-19.

Remote learning packets were prepared for at least two weeks of work, and soon over one thousand laptops were distributed to students in order to begin virtual learning April 6.

Azerionna Crudup, 13, and her little brother, Mha-Ki, 7, were two of the approximate 1,500 students within the network citywide. They attend Whittier Middle School and Lanning Square Primary respectively.

“A few months in it became much better, we settled into a schedule. But at first it was very challenging,” Crudup, a single-mother told TAPinto Camden in reflecting about the early days. “Even though I have to work 9-5, I was making sure they did all their assignments, their homework, and [corresponded] with teachers.”

Crudup works as an assistant manager at Taco Bell – where daily temperature checks and strict rules over the handling of food became the new normal for her and co-workers.

“I just prayed and let God take control,” she said. “At work we submit to checks, wash our hands, wear what we need to, and make sure we don’t cross-contaminate. Besides that prayer and planning have gotten me this far.”

Crudup said KIPP instructors were critical in not only providing instruction but going above and beyond.

“You really saw the foundation our teachers built over the years, the strong relationships with the kids and families, when this all took place,” Drew Martin, Executive Director for the KIPP Cooper Norcross Academies (KCNA) in Camden, said in an interview. “You saw many teachers taking extra steps to make things easier for them.”

That included 4th grade Whittier school teacher Danyel Williams, who troubleshooted internet issues with parents, and Charles Lane, a music teacher at Lanning Square, who hand-delivered instruments to students.

While online courses became the norm, buildings themselves have undergone deep cleaning — with other protocols are in the works as well.

“Most recently, we’ve done a lot of piloting, so what we can have the appropriate plan in place if the governor says we can or can’t return in September,” Martin added.

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