Communities have been hit hard these past few years. Cost of living increases. Decreased supply of goods and services. Affordable housing. Struggling businesses. Personnel shortages. Schools, teachers and ultimately students have felt the heavy burden placed on education. Smaller rural communities have been especially hit hard.
Callout: How is a school district to manage the delicate balance of providing quality instruction and advance learning, all while navigating the social-emotional needs of students?
East Baton Rouge Parish sought a creative solution to meet the needs of its 40,283 diverse learners and 2,200 teachers—they leveraged resources available to them outside of their community.
Dr. Sito Narcisse, superintendent for East Baton Rouge Parish, faced the challenge that plagues many schools in the U.S., a nationwide teacher shortage. With many families seeking remote education options, Louisiana’s East Baton Rouge Virtual Academy (EBRVA) had quickly grown to 1,400 students; nearly half that number in grades 6-12. To help support these students, he knew he needed an innovative solution.
Narcisse was familiar with ASU Prep Digital, an accredited online K–12 school that is part of Arizona State University, the college ranked #1 in innovation for the last eight years by U.S. News & World Report. To help keep students learning and on pace to graduate, he asked for assistance and formed a multi-year partnership with ASU Prep Digital for EBRVA’s 6-12 program last spring.
In this partnership, ASU Prep is the instructional provider for the school, providing curriculum and quality teachers certified in the subject areas they teach. The ASU educators are completing requirements to also become teacher certified in Louisiana. EBRVA is the students’ school of record and classes operate on East Baton Rouge Parish’s school schedule.
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“We appreciate the opportunity to work with this community and this partnership helps us serve others and expand and create new learning models,” said Dr. Christy Cleugh, Director of National Partnerships for ASU Prep Digital. “Their goal is our goal—to provide outstanding educational opportunities for students and provide excellent teachers well versed in the digital atmosphere.”
For all collaborative partnerships, like the one with East Baton Rouge, ASU Prep meets with the school and district’s leadership to first understand the needs of their community of learners. Then, they customize the support and make adjustments if needed along the way.
Student-center focus and personalization
“We strive to get to know each student as an individual and treat each classroom as a classroom of one,” Dr. Cleugh said. “We see a great deal of engagement and have lots of positive feedback. We hear, ‘thank you, we know you care about us’ from parents and students a lot. It feels like we’re building nice solid relationships with the families.”
Dr. Christy Cleugh, Director of National Partnerships at ASU Prep Digital
Providing student-centered focus to ensure all students have the opportunity for success no matter where they live is a core credo at ASU Prep.
Rachel Maleski, Digital Partnership Principal for ASU Prep Global, said, “We know the importance of keeping students at the center of every decision we make—it’s what will lead to the best outcome for students. The core of our mission as an organization is to constantly iterate new models for educational success and increase academic achievement for all learners.”
Rachel Maleski, Digital Partnership Principal for ASU Prep Global
Working together achieves more
Prior to the pandemic, Maleski said she felt educators and schools often worked in silos and competition. But she said she feels a shift now and there is more partnering and emphasis on the importance of collaboration.
“Collaborating really strengthens possibilities. When you partner with us, you are not alone,” she said. “We work together to ensure all students have equitable access to quality instruction. We think about who we are including and how we can make it work for them. It’s a two-way collaborative endeavor. Our partners learn from us, and we’re learning from them and with them.”
ASU Prep is proud of the continued progress students are making at EBRVA, and celebrates East Baton Rouge Parish for leveraging resources and relationships to build bright futures.
East Baton Rouge Virtual Academy
East Baton Rouge Virtual Academy (EBRVA) is a free, online EBR School System public school for students in grades PreK through 12. Enrollment is open to all families within the East Baton Rouge School district. Learn more at https://ebrschools.org/schools/ebrvirtual/.
Partner with ASU Prep Digital
ASU Prep Digital is an accredited online K–12 school providing districts with professional development options customized for their needs, including virtual teacher mentoring. For information on ways ASU Prep Digital can help with teacher shortages and other needs, visit our Teacher Mentoring webpage or email email@example.com.