Even after the pandemic is long gone, the opportunities provided by online learning are here to stay. Johnson City Schools is working to be ahead of the curve as they begin discussions to open a fully online school as a 12th school for the 2021-2022 school year.
A small group of masked supervisors, remote teachers and principals met recently to begin forming a strategy to bring the school to life. The discussion was led by consultant Tom Murray, who serves as the Director of Innovation for Future Ready Schools and has testified before the United State Congress and Senate about implementing schools that are future-ready. Murray served as a principal and administrator in Pennsylvania where he started one of the nation’s first, full-online public schools.
“This was a great opportunity to get stakeholders together to begin the conversation of what a fully online school will look like for Johnson City,” Superintendent Steve Barnett said. “This session will jumpstart our plans as we look at programs that have been successful and work on creating a program that will be successful for our students.”
Currently, there are approximately 2,000 students participating in the district’s full remote offering. But the big picture of this program will be past the pandemic. The hopes are that the program will provide a more convenient option for students and families, and could even allow students to get ahead on their coursework by taking online classes that could allow them to graduate early.
While details are still being discussed, including grade levels that will be offered, Topper Academy assistant principal George Laoo will add the school to his responsibilities.
This was the first of many meetings as the district works toward the development of its new virtual platform. Going forward, the district will create a timeline for the winter, spring, and summer that will include surveys of stakeholders, selection of teachers, professional development, and marketing for the new virtual school.