Since spring 2020, the coronavirus pandemic has placed unforeseen challenges on students nationwide.
Among the obstacles, students need to manage their time and classwork from home, find motivation amid tremendous uncertainty and, perhaps less obvious, communicate with teachers via email and video conferencing like never before.
The last challenge is where Rubin has stepped in.
As a provider of learning materials for skills like email etiquette, phone etiquette and interoffice communication, Rubin has, since March 2020, led a series of free webinars for K-12 and higher ed instructors across the country and offered sample activities for virtual learning.
Beyond that, the Virginia Beach-based company has worked with educators to incorporate Emerge, its online curriculum, within nearly 100 public school districts and universities from Virginia to California. The company expects to provide the material to 15,000-20,000 students in the fall semester.
Coast to coast, students need guidance on how to write an email, engage in conversation with teachers/employers and look their best through Zoom, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams.
Ariel Kirshenbaum, the career and technical education (CTE) coordinator for the West Contra Costa Unified School District (San Francisco Bay area), used Emerge during the summer for a “virtual internship” program that gave students real-world communication skills experience while at home.
“There was one student, in particular, who lit up and said, ‘I never realized there were so many ways you can write an email,’ and she had so much fun with it,” said Kirshenbaum.
As we head into the fall semester, Rubin now works with teachers in dozens of public school systems including in Los Angeles, Miami, Atlanta, Fairfax County, Alexandria — and, on the other end of the spectrum, a high school in rural Minnesota with 50 students in the senior class.
Faculty also employ Emerge at the college level within 20 colleges or universities including Michigan State, Alabama, George Mason, Penn State and Colorado State.
“We knew the pandemic presented an opportunity to help schools at a critical moment,” said Danny Rubin, founder of Rubin. “In many instances, our Emerge curriculum is serving in place of on-site internships and real-world opportunities so students can gain important professional development skills from home.”
More than lessons on email writing or networking conversations, Rubin’s Emerge curriculum imparts “soft skill” values of fairness, compassion, curiosity, authenticity and active listening.