HOUSTON, TEXAS — Huntsville Intermediate School was one of many schools that closed its doors to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, but being home did not stop them from continuing to provide their students with quality education. In partnership with Proximity Learning Inc. (PLI), an ESS company, the school’s fifth and sixth grade bilingual students had been learning from highly-qualified, certified teachers via live video conferencing since August.
“With our Proximity students, a lot of them didn’t miss a beat,” said Paul Trevino, former Huntsville Intermediate School principal. “With the format that we’ve had with Proximity Learning, we were able to move forward with it without missing a beat for those students because it’s what they’ve been doing all year long.”
As the school’s bilingual class continued to be taught by live instruction PLI teachers, Trevino had to figure out how to transition the other classes to a virtual learning environment. He said he was able to accomplish bringing the rest of the school’s students online due to the help and collaboration of PLI.
“I will say that was a very critical time for us, but also a very supportive and collaborative time in working with Proximity Learning as we included them in our professional learning communities,” Trevino said. “I appreciate their support and appreciate their willingness to adapt to change during this time, but they were fantastic.”
With their experience and knowledge of how to connect with students in an online classroom, Trevino included the PLI teachers in their staff meetings to help them implement new systems and procedures. He said the collaboration had been crucial for paving a path for students at Huntsville Intermediate to continue to grow even though they were not sitting in a brick and mortar classroom.
For Trevino, he said the best part about using PLI has been being able to provide his bilingual students with a high level of instruction from experienced educators. With four elementary schools feeding into Huntsville Intermediate School, Trevino said it was critical to have bilingual teachers to instruct and guide English-language learners as they transitioned into a new school for their fifth and sixth grade years.
In an optional and anonymous survey sent to PLI students in May, all the students who responded from Huntsville Intermediate School answered that they felt supported by their PLI teacher during school closures and felt prepared for the 2020-21 school year after continuing their learning at home with their PLI teacher.
“Everything has been good,” said one of the fifth grade students in their response, “this is a very helpful thing this school has done :)”
With parents being closer to their child’s learning more than ever due to stay-at-home orders, Trevino said he had a few parents reach out to him to say they were thankful that their child had been learning virtually all school year with PLI. Students were able to begin logging in with their instructor online and begin learning new content quickly after being issued a Chromebook from the school.
“The parents were appreciative because it’s not like they had to really sit with their child and take them through modules and everything else,” Trevino said. “The students already knew what to do, how to do it, how to access it. We just had to put the technology in their hands and ensure that they were able to access the link to get to the courses.”
As the school year ended on a virtual note for all, Trevino said he has realized the school’s potential to provide any student with access to education if they need to be at home. Moving forward, he said he would definitely recommend how beneficial collaboration between his campus staff and PLI teachers was in providing students with high level instruction.
“We’ve proven that we can have the collaboration with students, with staff [and] with parents,” Trevino said. “We know now that we have that capability and how to adapt to that change.”