COVID-19 has impacted programs for kids all over the Bay Area, including the 49ers EDU program. When schools shut down in March of last year, so did the program. But through the hard work of the EDU team, it’s now back and ready to serve more students.
“Typically, we’d have students come in person, and we have our classrooms there on site at the stadium. But we had to think about virtually, how could we change it up to make it work,” said 49ers EDU Lead Coordinator Emilio Cortez. “What we started doing was just kind of seeing where the need was at. So, reaching out to the teachers and seeing what they needed, as they moved into kind of a more virtual format and social distance learning.”
The 49ers EDU program shows kindergarten through eighth-graders how STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) subjects intersect with football. The program uses those concepts to connect with the students. In January, the EDU team rolled out its first virtual classroom visits.
Wonderly Peralta, a middle school teacher at Quimby Oak, was involved in the program when it was in person. She was also one of the first teachers to make use of the virtual classroom option.
“It’s nice for them to come to us and to just teach the kids and teach in their own special way; for the kids to see something different,” said Peralta. “I think it’s good for them to be exposed to the art and the math, and especially to the careers that are available.”
Despite the virtual setting, Peralta says the kids were engaged.
“The notes were meticulous. The drawings were good. I was like, ‘Whoa, you did listen.’ They had fun. I asked them about it the next day, and they said they enjoyed it. It was a welcome change,” said Peralta. “They did ask me, are they coming again? You know, can we do another lesson or a different lesson.”
“They’ve been really engaged. I think they just really enjoy being able to see someone else invited into their class,” said Cortez.
Current programs include football career connections and the environment.
“It’s good for kids to see the other side of football too,” said Peralta. “I mean, football is great, but they need to see the people who are behind the scenes. They need to see the other subjects that are applied to the 49ers. They need to see those things. They need to be exposed.”
Earlier this month, the 49ers opened the virtual learning program up to students around the world. It has already worked in classrooms in San Diego, Fresno and Los Angeles. Teachers can sign up at https://www.49ers.com/community/49ersedu.
The 49ers EDU program is a free program that was started in 2014 when the 49ers moved to Santa Clara. It has severed over 250,000 participants to date.