Upstate school district creates unique virtual academy hub to house all on-line educators

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ANDERSON, SC (WSPA)–Anderson School District Five has taken virtual learning to another level. Instead of being at home teaching, virtual educators are all together under one roof.

Virtual teachers in the district are all housed at the Reames Center off of South McDuffie Street. Educators in K-12th grades have their own cubicles decorated as if they were in a classroom.

“This is the fifth-grade classroom. It’s made up of teachers from across the district. Teachers who have come from all different schools,” said Dr. Richard Rosenberger, Executive Director of ASD5’s Virtual Academy.

Approximately 13 classrooms are occupied by nearly 130 educators for the virtual school.

“We make sure they each have their own dry erase board. It works as a divider to kind of give them a little privacy. They come with their curtains just so they’re not distracted from what’s going on with everybody else,” Dr. Rosenberger said.

K-5th grades are separated by grade levels, and secondary grade levels are separated by subjects like music and P.E. classes.

“We also have a health fitness log that they have to do too. So they’ll do health, nutrition, but then they also have to get out and do fitness things,” a P.E. teacher said.

Since each teacher has their own decorative pod, they’re able to be hands- on with the 4,000 students at home.

“I have friends who teach at other districts and they’re not doing what we’re doing. I think it’s the closest to face-to face that we’re going to get,” said Taylor Kujawa, 2nd Grade Virtual Teacher.

Students follow a strict schedule between 7:45 a.m. and 3:15 p.m. each day. Some teachers said this approach allows their processes to be more streamlined.

“We’ve got more opportunities to help children individually because we aren’t doing all the other activities like taking bathroom breaks and recess and just procedures. We’re able to focus in on the academics,” said April Haynes, 2nd grade Virtual Teacher.

“This team that I’m working with, we have really hit it off. We have a group text together. We share our successes, we share our difficulties together, and we really just instantly clicked,” said Michelle Ulsaker, 1st grade Virtual Academy Teacher.

It’s a unique way of going virtual, while trying to mend families and provide the best education in a tough situation.

“I would say it’s helping to bond families because I have seen parents sit down on these sessions working with their children and I’ve never saw that face-to-face,” Haynes said.

Dr. Rosenberger said if you run into any problems with your Chromebook devices, they have staff ready to assist you at a depot located within the district office.

He also said if you have a software issue, you can contact teachers and staff directly to work through a possible resolution.

Visit the district’s Restart page for more details.

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