(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) In-person school begins on Monday, August 31 for the St. Joseph School District and so does virtual school.
For the first time since 2014 Noyes Elementary School will open its doors. The school will serve as the hosting site for 95 teachers who will be teaching in SJSD's first ever virtual academy.
As of Wednesday, 2836 students will attend the virtual academy ranging from kindergarten through 12th grade.
"I love it," said Jennifer Schoeberl, a 3rd grade teacher in the district. "This building has just such a positive atmosphere and vibe and my 3rd grade team is amazing. There's seven of us and we work really well off of each other and it's unlike anything I've ever experienced. "
The St. Joseph School District started off with a small group of teachers who were going to dedicate their semester to virtually teach this year, giving families the option to school from home during the pandemic.
Marlie Williams, the Assistant Superintendent of Academic Services for the district said a handful of teachers were going to use just a classroom. The number of students in the virtual academy kept growing and Williams needed a few more. The district was not using Noyes Elementary so they decided to put the teachers there. The numbers continued to grow and now all 15 classrooms are full.
The 95 teachers come together from all across the school district to take part in a new beginning in St. Joseph.
It’s a first time experience for everyone, coming with many learning curves. But, everyone is ready to take on this new journey.
“I am learning so much through all of our training,” said Schoeberl.
When asked about teaching virtually, many of the teachers never thought they would be sitting behind a computer to teach online school during their teaching career.
A parent herself, 1st grade teacher Erin Wilkinson wants to make learning the easiest way possible, knowing mom and dad will be a big part of learning this year.
“My biggest worry is just making sure that those kids can get on the technology and that hopefully is user friendly for my babies--my 1st graders--as possible,” said Wilkinson. “As a parent, I try to think through that lens for my parents so I’m not overwhelming them along with their student.”
Another worry is keeping a connection with the students. Teachers at the virtual academy will miss the in-person interaction with their classroom, but are going to work very hard on establishing relationships through zoom meetings and phone calls.
They want to make sure the kids know they are loved and cared for and they are here for the students.
Despite all the changes, the district is excited to establish a new way of learning in St. Joseph that will make a difference to the families during the global pandemic.