Cassville schools offering alternative classes

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Experience for students that need a non-traditional environment

Backpacks and lockers aren’t necessary with the Launch program offered through Cassville school district, and the traditional route to education is making room for new technology and online courses.

Richard Asbill, Cassville school district superintendent, said Cassville schools have partnered with Springfield public school district for what they refer to as “Launch.”

“Launch is Missouri teachers delivering a virtual course for Missouri students,” Asbill said.

According to Asbill, there are many pathways to use Launch. For example, a student who wants to take a certain math class but unable to take it at the home district.

“Because that math class for us can only be offered during first period, and that student has marching band, which is also first period,” Asbill said. “We are trying to look for an opportunity where the student can participate in marching band and that math class online, having a similar class experience, but receiving their instruction virtually.”

Another example is how the district is trying to develop opportunities where teachers can deliver instruction to students who may be sick, or out of school. Cassville school wants to deliver an in-class experience to those students, so that they can stay in touch with their co-students and teachers.

“We are looking at those two paths that work for us,” Asbill said. “However, we want a partnership so that other districts can participate in this program. What happens is, it allows access to online courses that our students can participate with.”

Asbill said if one of the neighboring school districts does not offer an advanced class, Cassville schools can deliver that instruction, and students from those other districts that are interested in the class can participate.

“We have some new equipment coming in,” Asbill said. “One of the items is called ‘Swivel,’ and it’s a camera system that works through a tablet. The tablet sits in a dock, and the teacher has a electronic marker that can be put in a pocket. Swivel will follow wherever the teacher is walking in the room. If a student has a question, the device can rotate to focus on the student that has the question, making it a very interactive class.

“That is our goal — to deliver online instruction which can be live or recorded – but we also want to do something that is interactive, as well, for students.”

Asbill said the district has been working on the online courses for a couple of years, and has been a member of the Launch program since last year, and students are starting to get interested in it.

“We believe there will be students that may look at this program as an alternate path to graduation,” Asbill said. “We understand that, and we are ready to assist them with that. Those students would still be able to participate in extra-curricular and co-curricular activities, and we hope this program will allow us a chance to re-engage with some students who have left, and help them pursue a high school diploma.”

According to Asbill, Cassville believes having a high school diploma would be best for the student, the community and Missouri economics.

“When a student has a high school diploma, we believe that gets them down a path of more economic stability and community involvement,” Asbill said. “We want to help with that.”

According to Asbill, the classes offered by Launch are roughly $270 per course, so if a student were to take seven classes, in a traditional make-up, that would be about $3,000 in tuition costs. If the student is enrolled with the Cassville district, the district will pay the full cost of the tuition.

“As long as the student enrolls, they may not have to step foot on campus,” Asbill said. “And we can participate in funding their online education experience.”

Asbill said educational experiences change over the years, and today’s students are going to have a different experience than what their parents had. Cassville will be proactive in setting up systems that allow students to have an educational experience that meets their needs, and also, for Cassville schools to deliver it to them.

“We know that there are going to be students that may already be job-focused,” Asbill said. “We want those students be able to engage a high school education and diploma experience, [while working], and if that is something we can assist them with, we are happy to partner with those students.”

While Cassville school district does have the Launch program in place now, they are still working through some of the details.

“As a district, we still have some work to do,” Asbill said. “We have yet to have that meeting with the surrounding Barry County schools to invite them into have a discussion.

“We want to do this together, we are not going to do this in isolation. We want to make things better and make the best decisions for everybody.”

For more information on the Launch program, people can visit the website at, fuelthelaunch.com.

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