Monday, JA students joined teachers and fellow students in Google Meet sessions, viewed video devotionals to begin their day, and began working through carefully prepared lesson plans. Technology use in the classroom has been a priority of Jackson Academy for years, and those years of preparation have made the school uniquely structured to make the best of the situation presented by COVID-19. Online learning will be a blended model of new and traditional learning strategies.
Head of Technology Eddie Wettach said JA teachers are well-prepared to meet the challenge of delivering academic content in a distance learning environment. Twelve years ago, JA began providing Apple technology and significant training to teachers. Following teacher training, students received school-issued Apple devices, and JA became an Apple one-to-one teaching and learning environment. Teachers incorporated technology into the classroom, often developing original, creative methods. Teachers then pursued Apple Teacher Certification, where they studied and met Apple’s standards for carrying out teaching and learning using technology.
In addition, JA has the infrastructure to support distance learning. A JA team skilled in Apple technology offers support to faculty and students via email, through remote access, and on campus by appointment.
“If we simply take a traditional class and move it online, the educational outcomes of that experience will be severely limited,” said Wettach. “Engaging students in distance learning is just as important as it is in a traditional learning environment.” Teachers will be using multiple methods of content delivery that will include recorded and live sessions. JA has four academic divisions, and each division is establishing a customized approach for the age group it serves. JA’s approach is designed to offer flexibility—students can access educational resources on demand—while equally taking routine into consideration, offering certain times to focus on specific subjects.
JA became the state’s first Apple Distinguished School in 2013. The Apple Distinguished School mark is reserved for Apple one-to-one schools that meet criteria for innovation, leadership, and educational excellence, and demonstrate a clear vision of exemplary learning environments. JA must re-apply periodically for this designation. Currently, Apple has extended JA’s Apple Distinguished School award through 2022.