A Student-Centered Approach Makes Virtual School a Real Success

When schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District were considering their plans for fall 2020, everyone knew things would look a little different, but at the Katherine Johnson STEM Academy, the principal saw the current obstacles as an opportunity. Over the summer, principal Kyle Hunsberger, gathered a team together to ensure that the return to learning in the fall would be better and smarter in supporting the middle school’s students and their work.

On the team that built up a new vision were: Chris Rougier, STEM Curriculum Developer, LMU Family of Schools and teachers Daisy Alvarado-Munoz and Charlotte Sabot (an LMU SOE alum), who worked with the principal over the summer months. The team began by reflecting on the successes of the Spring semester and processing the common challenges that prevented students from being successful.

Following this thoughtful planning process, the team created a series of synchronous and asynchronous lessons using Dr. Gholdy Muhammad’s four-layered equity framework to prepare students for distance learning, which launched the school’s Smart Start curriculum.

With the curriculum in place, the team focused on how to get the students into the right classrooms. To get students where they needed to be, the team built a virtual school, guiding the students through a series of instructions and into teacher-created “Bitmoji” virtual classrooms.

Christ Rougier Social 300x300 - A Student-Centered Approach Makes Virtual School a Real Success
Chris Rougier, STEM Curriculum Developer, LMU Family of Schools

To further support its students, the Katherine Johnson STEM Academy school staff then added a virtual front office and counseling office for any students who had questions or scheduling issues.

The functionality of the entire school is represented online, and virtual school has been a real success, enabling a smooth start to the school year; with teachers able to concentrate on their instruction and the students focusing on thoughtful discussions and developing twenty-first century problem-solving skills.

You’re invited to visit the Katherine Johnson STEM Academy Virtual School at: https://kjstemacademy.org/virtualschool

Katherine Johnson STEM Academy is an LAUSD/ LMU Partnership STEM school.