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A Parent’s Perspective on Remote Learning

Tony and Elisa Barbone with their children, Anton ’23, Alexandra ’19 and Tatiana.

By Elisa Barbone

Technology, training, computer cameras and webinars with co-workers in other countries have been normal in our household for many years. My husband, Tony, a tech executive, often works from home when he isn’t traveling on business. The words “Shhhh! Dad’s camera and microphone are on, he’s working!” have been a common phrase in our household since our children were toddlers. Using Facetime, Skype, Whatsapp and other technology to stay in touch with family was also part of our life since moving to the U.S. from Canada almost 20 years ago. 

In that way, learning via computer already seemed familiar for our children, and we welcomed remote learning in the spring. We knew using more technology would be a valuable learning opportunity for our three children, who attend school in three different cities: Anton ’23, a sophomore at Ravenscroft;  Alexandra ’19, a freshman at Drexel University in Philadelphia; and Tatiana, a senior at the University of San Diego. Anton loves all things technology-related, so he particularly welcomed the use of more technology. 

Every summer since moving to Raleigh, we have flown to our lakefront home on the West Coast, just north of Seattle. Everyone in our house was busy this year with online summer classes, work and volunteering. My husband continued working from home, and Anton continued to learn virtually by taking 3-D printing classes online. As August rolled around, our daughters’ universities announced continued campus closures, and we faced a dilemma over juggling university schedules across multiple time zones.

The Barbones enjoy a hike in Washington State this summer.

If we flew back to our home in Raleigh, Tatiana would be in class until midnight. Moving our daughters into apartments in different cities on opposite coasts to learn remotely didn’t seem like the right thing to do, either. Nor did we want to take on more risk and complicate our lives any further. 

We hoped Ravenscroft would provide us the option of choosing to continue learning remotely in the fall. Problem solved! We decided to stay on the West Coast a little longer, and Anton took on the burden of starting class each day at 5 a.m., with the benefit of ending at noon PST. The school’s investment in OWL technology made it seamless for him. It didn’t matter if he was in Raleigh or on the West Coast. 

I was also able to continue in the volunteer roles I had committed to this year. Using Zoom, email and a shared Google drive, I was able to put together the Fine Arts Booklet from the West Coast. I also took minutes of our meetings as RAC’s secretary, attended Fine Arts Association and Parents’ Association meetings, and helped plan Global Parent Ambassadors events. Of course, I was supposed to only have one child at home this year, and I thought I would have a lot of free time to give back to the school. Things changed — and, sure, I panicked a little, wondering how I would juggle it all — but my commitment to the school didn’t, and the technology we have at our disposal made it all possible. I wasn’t about to let anyone at Ravenscroft down!

We have recently returned to Raleigh, but we continue to use and appreciate all of the technology that supports our children’s learning. We are grateful and proud to be part of the Ravenscroft community. 

The technology Ravenscroft has invested in to support hybrid learning enabled the Barbones to stay together in their lakefront home on the West Coast, simplifying life for their family during the pandemic.