In January, as the realization grew that the novel coronavirus could upend elementary and secondary education as we know it, members of the senior administrative team began the work to reimagine and then reinvent teaching and learning at PC. To say that it was a Herculean effort would almost feel like an understatement.
Head of School Darryl J. Ford tasked Assistant Head of School Beth Glascott to oversee the effort and Academic Dean David Brightbill and Director of Strategic Initiatives Travis Larrabee to dive into available research and the experience of schools in other parts of the country that closed early on in the crisis.
The idea of learning outside the classroom was not new to these PC educators: For the past decade, as Penn Charter has implemented its Strategic Vision, they have been studying remote learning and implementing it selectively, when appropriate for the subject and students’ cognitive development. But the worsening crisis clearly required a more sweeping and, in the end, radical implementation.
Ford cancelled all classes a week before spring break was set to begin and, during break, the entire faculty joined in the work that occupied senior administrators, technology educators and chairs of departments for January, February and March.
Penn Charter launched its Distance Learning Plan on March 31, on the first day back from break. Ford described it to students and parents as “Distance Learning 1.0,” making the point that the program is iterative; distance learning at PC has evolved from that first day and will continue to change as teachers, students and families learn from experience.
Because Penn Charter is in the enviable position of being able to guarantee that our students have the technology they need to learn remotely — a device and an Internet connection — we have the ability to deliver a robust distance learning program, pre-K to 12. The program uses Google Meet to video conference, plus various apps. Teachers provide synchronous and asynchronous academic lessons, plus community time, one-on-one time with teachers, and opportunities for clubs and interaction with friends.
THE PRIMARY GOALS OF THE PROGRAM ARE:
• academic progress
• meaningful engagement in productive learning with peers and teachers
• maintaining relationships and connection
Distance learning at PC continues to evolve and will right up until, and including, the last official day of school. On Saturday, June 6, join us online on Facebook or YouTube for Penn Charter’s first-ever virtual graduation. Commencement for the Class of 2020 begins with a photo montage at 10:30 a.m. and a prerecorded, formal, socially distanced program at 10:40 a.m.