A Red Carpet Affair


Mission: Madonna Learning Center provides a nurturing faith-based educational and social environment that empowers children and young adults with special needs to reach their full potential while offering support to their families.

February 29, 2020 || Hilton Memphis || madonna-learning.org || Photos by McKendree Walker

Madonna Learning Center held their annual Gala just before the pandemic and quarantine. This year was especially grand as Madonna recognized its 50th Anniversary, and the festivities included a celebratory champagne toast to recognize Madonna Learning Center’s “50 Years of Miracles.”

COVID-19 did not halt education for Madonna Learning Center (MLC) students, and year-end celebrations were also held to mark the end of the school year. The restrictions occurred immediately following Madonna’s Spring break in March and the students were not allowed to return in-house to complete the school year. MLC staff and faculty quickly made adaptations to transition to virtual technology to continue both academic lessons and social interaction. Lessons were individualized through an on-line educational program called “Blendspace.” Zoom was utilized whereby students could visually see their teachers and interact with classmates. Students took virtual field trips to places like the zoo, a museum and aquarium. The occupational therapist made videos about buttoning and zipping. Speech therapists had one-on-one Zoom sessions to offer tailored content based on the student. The music teacher performed sing-alongs, and physical education class was led via Zoom by the PE teacher. Each and every member of the faculty brought their creativity and innovative ideas to make certain Madonna students continued to learn and progress through the COVID pandemic.

Families became engaged in their child’s learning experience and were able to see their abilities in a whole different way. MLC students learned new independent skills, logging onto their scheduled classes and navigating new technology on their iPads and computers.

And not to be forgotten, Madonna scheduled a private, virtual prom night, complete with a DJ broadcasting their favorite dance tunes. A special prom “gift bag” was hand-delivered to each student’s home. Students dressed their best from home, and dancing, smiles and laughter could be seen and heard by all who tuned in via Zoom!

Madonna also held a special graduation ceremony for Sr. High and adult Work Based Learning Class. They utilized the large gymnasium, adhering to social distancing and health regulations. Graduates were treated to a drive-by congratulatory parade from friends, faculty and extended family members. It was a unique, but joyous experience for all.

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