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Ann Arbor company aims to help families form 'pods' to support virtual learning

Posted at 6:27 PM, Aug 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-06 19:16:09-04

ANN ARBOR, MICH. (WXYZ) — Many parents are being pulled in two directions. They feel they have to choose between helping their children stay on track with virtual learning and their jobs.

For some, the solution is joining what is called a learning pod. An Ann Arbor Company is working to prepare people to be pod-leaders.

When COVID-19 forced the shut down of schools earlier this year the Arizala family, like most, faced challenges.

“Our kids are 6, 8, and 11, and the 11-year-old can be a little self-directed, but the 6 and 8-year-old really cannot be. So throughout the spring, it was one of us just there. One of us working and one of us trying to manage school,” said Scott Arizala.

As it became apparent his children’s school would be starting virtually in the fall, he knew something had to change.

“The idea is to get back to a full-time schedule,” he said.

He is working on a solution for not just his family, but yours.

Scott Arizala who has worked helping to train camp counselors is part of a team that has created Pod School Prep. It is an online training program that aims to help you form what is called a pod.

The founder of Pod School Prep, which is based in Ann Arbor says the idea is that families team up to hire someone to oversee a small group of children as they do virtual learning offered by public schools.

“Our program is designed to support virtual school programs that public schools are working very hard to put out. Don’t leave your public school. Keep your funding in the public school. Find a way to fill in the support piece, the child care piece, the tutoring piece,” said Sarah Kurtz McKinnon, Founder of Pod School Prep.

“I am super excited that someone has as much trust in me to make sure their kids are learning in this tough time everyone is going through,” said Dayvon Steen, a Pod Leader.

Come fall Steen will be overseeing a pod of 6 children, 3 of them the Arizala children. He plans to make sure there are opportunities for hands-on learning and playtime.

“I am going to learn their curriculum in their on-line school, but hopefully try to teach them in a fun way,” he said.

Arizala said he is hoping to form a pod of children that help give his children a chance to enjoy socialization.

“And I think that social piece, even if it is with only 3 other kids that come into our pod, that is going to be key for their emotional well-being,” he said.

You can learn more about the company working to help prepare pod leaders at

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