In southern West Virginia, less students are graduating from college or university with a degree to teach mathematics. Resultantly, Wyoming County Schools have had multiple teaching holes across their K-8 and high schools for their mathematics courses and struggled to fill them with a certified instructor. The district has had multiple people come into the education field through nontraditional means, such as from a business or accounting field, who understand the algorithms but not how to teach students. The district needed a solution for their shortage that would also help their nontraditional teachers grow.
When the Wyoming County Schools superintendent visited a conference and watched Proximity Learning CEO Evan Erdberg present on the online learning platform and its different features, the administrators knew the program would be beneficial for their school district. Administrators from Wyoming County Schools then visited two neighboring counties to observe classes where PLI had already been implemented. Kara Mitchell, Director of Academic Programs at Wyoming County Schools, said she saw that it was evident there that the students were comfortable with their teacher on the computer and they cared for the classroom facilitator. They started implementing virtual instruction from PLI in August of 2019 for 27 classes across five of their schools.
Mitchell said they were interested in PLI due to the programs’ high-qualified teachers that are either nationally board certified or highly certified in their content areas. With these teachers, Mitchell said they are able to use them as mentors to help invest and grow the capacity of their own teachers who are in the process of becoming certified. When talking to their principals, she said they have seen teachers at Wyoming County Schools grow in their understanding of effective instructional techniques and how to manage a classroom.
Unlike asynchronous online learning classes, Mitchell said she can attest to how the schools’ students and facilitators have developed a strong connection with the PLI teachers due to the live video component. One of her other favorite features is the teacher’s capability of recording the lesson for students to watch if they were absent or need to refresh themselves on a topic. Utilizing PLI has allowed for the district to fulfill their goals of student academic success while also allowing their students to grow emotionally and socially. Since the implementation of PLI at the district, approximately 520 students have been able to interact with the teachers through live video and receive high-quality education.