Superintendent Column - Franklin City Schools
Greetings from Franklin City Schools!
As you know, the pandemic has upended our lives in a thousand ways. If you have children at home, you're aware that pandemic shutdowns have altered the traditional educational model and forced districts to find new ways to deliver instruction to our students. If a similar shutdown had happened 20 years ago, we likely would have had students continue learning at home with paper packets. But, since we live in the Internet age, we can now offer remote learning electronically.
When the fall semester began, Franklin City Schools offered either in-person classes or fully remote learning with students committing to one or the other for the entire semester. About 350 FCS students opted for the fully remote option. We also had plans in place that would let us pivot to fully remote for everyone, should COVID numbers dictate that. In fact, we had several days of fully remote learning for everyone in December, and the first week after winter break was also fully remote for everyone. As we developed remote learning plans, we had to wrestle with student access to technology and how to deliver instruction to students who didn't have access to a computer and/or the Internet at home.
The tools and technology necessary to make remote learning possible depend on the expertise of our staff. One person who has been the backbone of our ability to shift to remote learning is Amy Hudson Estepp, our district's Educational Technologist. She recently spoke as a main-stage panelist at the (virtual) International Society for Technology in Education Conference. The panel topic, "How ed tech coaches are supporting students, teachers in remote learning," brought together speakers from districts whose internal resources varied widely. The panelists noted that regardless of their district's internal resources, they all struggle (with varying degrees) with student access.
It's likely that even when the pandemic is behind us, many districts will still offer remote learning to that segment of students who prefer that. We're fortunate to have staff members like Amy and her team who help us find ways to reach students who aren't in traditional classrooms, and classroom teachers who develop lesson plans that serve students who don't all have access to technology.
We're also fortunate to be in a community with organizations who've stepped up to offer public hotspots. The Franklin-Springboro Public Library has a hotspot accessible from their parking lot (Franklin branch) and Franklin Township recently announced a hotspot at their administration building, with other township hotspots being planned. United Way of Warren County and Warren County Community Services have partnered to provide complimentary, filtered, and age-appropriate WiFi at their 333 Conover Drive location. We appreciate the partnership of all of these organizations.
As always, if you have questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to contact me at email@example.com or (937) 746-1699.
Michael D. Sander, Ed.D, Superintendent, Franklin City Schools