As the first week of the Burlington School District’s V.I.B.E. virtual learning academy comes to an end, administrators are hoping the lessons they’ve learned while teaching online since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic will not only offer a better program this school year, but also help them innovate as they look to the future.
“We were thrust into (having to do online learning) last year,” said Burlington Superintendent Pat Coen. “I think we had three or four of days to prepare. And we learned a lot, and (the district’s online program) is going to much better than it was.”
Operating at the former James Madison Elementary building, the V.I.B.E. program now functions as the district’s virtual learning option.
Before this school year, the district’s online courses fell to teachers who would have to juggle virtual instruction with in-person learning.
Now, the district’s virtual learning will be taught by instructors who teach online exclusively and will each have their own classroom to work out of at James Madison.
“One of our strengths is that our teachers are going to be 100% dedicated virtual teachers,” said Beth Shurtleff, the V.I.B.E. program’s first principal, who is also working on her doctorate in educational psychology and technology.
“So they’re going to be able to focus on that and best practices and what’s working really well for the students.”
The program allows kindergarten-12 students the chance to take 100% of their classes virtually, but also allows opportunities for individualized and blended learning plans, including:
- Meeting with instructors in-person at James Madison;
- One-on-one talks with teachers via Google Meet;
- Picking their own class schedules for the day;
- The opportunity to take some courses at the student’s normal school building;
- And other supplemental, enrichment and social activities that can be done at the school (although the activities will not be required for any classes) but still allow for social distancing.
“For a lot of students, that’s a big draw,” Shurtleff said about students being able to pick their own class schedules. “That ownership of their own learning and their own scheduling. … Students can complete their work at any time of the day that they want. So if there’s a family issue or if a high school student has a job or any other things that might interrupt a traditional school day, this works well for them.”
It’s currently unclear how many students are opting to take V.I.B.E. because of concerns about the pandemic and the delta variant of the coronavirus, but the numbers of those wanting to get on board with the program keep rising.
On Aug. 12, Shurtleff told The Hawk Eye that 170 students were enrolled for the fall semester, up from 104 the previous week.
On Friday, school officials said the program has more than 235 students enrolled, with additional students registering up until the first day of school and into the week.
The program will also function as a regional online learning hub, serving not just Burlington students but also students in West Burlington, Keokuk, Fort Madison, Central Lee and Winfield-Mt. Union.
According to Savannah Prescott, community relations coordinator for the district, just this week the New London School District has expressed interest in joining the program as well.
“We came together because we’re a regional community in southeast Iowa,” Shurtleff said of the partnership between the districts. “We felt that we could do the best job we could with virtual learning by pooling our resources and expertise. … It’s really just a matter of finding the best solution for all of our districts and working together collaboratively really got us where we wanted to be.”
Shurtleff said the district is open to entering into partnership agreements with other school districts in the future and that, hypothetically, the program would be able to hire more staff to meet instructional demands as enrollment increases.
“This is the way of the future. We are a technology society,” Shurtleff said. “The big thing with this program is that we are looking at every individual student and we are looking at their psychology work on multiple intelligences, where we find out what makes every kid awesome. Every human being is amazing. We just have our individualized areas of strength.”
Utility to engage customers on future clean energy plans
Aug. 10, 2021 (SAN ANTONIO) – CPS Energy, the largest municipally owned, fully-integrated electric and gas utility in the United States, is hosting a virtual town hall on Thursday, Aug. 12 from 6 – 7 p.m. to share information on its Flexible Path SM initiatives and gather customer questions and feedback.
The Flexible PathSM seeks to replace older generation and introduce newer and cleaner technologies to provide Reliable and Affordable energy to San Antonio for decades to come.
The event will include discussions from CPS Energy leaders covering the Flexible Path SM initiatives, including the Flexible Path SM Resource Plan, FlexPOWER BundleSM and FlexSTEPSM.
- Current portfolio of power generation resources (plants): The Flexible Path SM Resource Plan provides a roadmap for the retirement of several aging gas steam units that will soon need to be replaced.
- Next steps towards replacing existing plants with new power resources: The FlexPOWER BundleSM initiative is one step along this roadmap to procure newer and cleaner technologies.
- Helpful energy efficiency and conservation options: The FlexSTEPSM program is another milestone that creates a partnership with the community to encourage energy efficiency and conservation.
“We’re looking forward to sharing more about the initiatives we have in place for our community and collaborating with our customers on the best path forward for San Antonio’s future energy needs,” said CPS Energy President & CEO Paula Gold-Williams. “All of our Flexible Path SM initiatives are driven by our Guiding Pillars and People First approach and have the same goal to bring a cleaner, more sustainable future to San Antonio with the support of our customers.”
Customers interested in participating can register on the CPS Energy website. Visit www.cpsenergy.com for other informational materials such as the latest Sustainability Report, Annual Reports and helpful customer programs.
Established in 1860, CPS Energy is the nation’s largest public power, natural gas, and electric company, providing safe, reliable, and competitively-priced service to 860,934 electric and 358,495 natural gas customers in San Antonio and portions of seven adjoining counties. Our customers’ combined energy bills rank among the lowest of the nation’s 20 largest cities – while generating $8 billion in revenue for the City of San Antonio for more than seven decades. As a trusted and strong community partner, we continuously focus on job creation, economic development, and educational investment. True to our People First philosophy, we are powered by our skilled workforce, whose commitment to the community is demonstrated through our employees’ volunteerism in giving back to our city and programs aimed at bringing value to our customers. CPS Energy is among the top public power wind energy buyers in the nation and number one in Texas for solar generation.