Committed Dovercourt staff rise to the COVID-19 challenges

Two children in masks sit in a Dovercourt class in November.
Two children wear masks to maintain safety during a program at Dovercourt. Photo courtesy of Dovercourt.

This article is sponsored by Dovercourt Recreation Centre. 

Dovercourt has always been about its people, both clients and staff. After its initial closure last March — and cancelling winter, spring and some summer activities — they’ve slowly reintroduced programs, both in-person and online. This has required redeveloping all programs and the way they are taught. Dovercourt’s staff has risen to the challenge, demonstrating adaptability in all program areas.

Beverley Payne,  a retired professional development consultant and adult educator for over 30 years, has been teaching community art classes for over 15 years. To teach her popular watercolour class online, Beverley uses a flexible holder for her iPad, tilted to display her work surface. She guides her students step-by-step as they learn composition, colour, value and painting techniques. 

“The Zoom classes have afforded me a teaching opportunity. The students are sometimes amazed at what they have accomplished,” says Beverley. 

Giving feedback online is more complicated than in person but there are advantages to the format, including serving a broad age range of students and no geographic barriers to participation. Also, recordings are sent out after each class, allowing people to work at their convenience or repeat a lesson. 

Paul Hope, a Kitchissippi resident who has taught Tai Chi at Dovercourt for over 30 years, has brought his teaching skills to his weekly online class. It can be tricky to find a camera angle that allows full visibility of his movements, but online classes have their advantages too. 

“Students have always wanted videos of me doing tai chi; now I can provide them with a recording of each class. If students know they are going to miss a class, I can record instructions for them,” Paul says. 

The Afterschool program and Breakfast club have welcomed kids back to the Centre to enjoy fun activities in safe spaces. While it’s not without its challenges, it can be inspiring. 

“To see everyone working together to make things safe is a good reminder that we, as a community, can make a difference,” said Alanna Riordan, Dovercourt’s Inclusion Coordinator. “The kids and staff are often more resilient than we give them credit for. When faced with the challenges around masks and social distancing, they find a way to make it work. I am glad that we can be open to give that space for the kids to have fun and just be kids.”

Since the pool reopened in July, swimming lessons have required significant changes as well. Instructors teach from the deck wearing face shields, there are fewer people in the pool and swimmers are well-spaced from each other. Dovercourt swim instructor and lifeguard Lia Taylor says the new format has been “very positive” in some ways.

“With the small groups, I can direct all my attention to helping them with any weaknesses they may be having,” Lia said. “I think my favorite part is it has allowed me to become more creative in the way I teach because we don’t have access to the same resources.” A new 6-week session of swim lessons begins Nov. 9. 

So what are you waiting for? Take a class with one of Dovercourt’s great instructors. 

Leave a comment