THE Journal - Michael Hart

Mississippi District To Use Virtual Learning To Alleviate Teacher Shortage

The Greenville Public School District in central Mississippi will use a new virtual learning program to alleviate some of the problems caused by a lack of available teachers.

The school district has signed Proximity Learning, an Austin-based virtual staffing company that supplies virtual learning with live teachers to about 150 school districts.

The lack of qualified teachers is a state-wide problem with the Mississippi Department of Education noting there are an average of six teaching vacancies at all of the state's 144 school districts. Greenville PSD Public Relations Specialist Everett Chinn said the district, with 14 schools and 5,500 students, has experienced an unusually high number of teacher retirements in recent years and fewer college students are choosing to enter education.

"It's a matter affecting school districts across Mississippi and the U.S.," Chinn said.

Proximity Learning will supply Greenville with the equivalent of eight full-time teachers, six teaching math and one each for science and French.

"We are looking forward to seeing how this opportunity to work with Proximity Learning will help expand the number of quality courses we can offer students in our schools," said Greenville PSD Superintendent Leeson Taylor.

Using video interface, Proximity teachers actually see the students and the students see the teacher, emulating an actual in-school classroom. An online learning management system also gives students 24/7 access to curriculum, homework and interactive activities. 

"Our virtual classes are far from staring at a computer screen," said Proximity Learning CEO Evan Erdberg. "They are interactive, engaging and equivalent in caliber to face-to-face instruction."

About the Author: Michael Hart is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and the former executive editor of THE Journal.

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