Years before the coronavirus forced schools to figure out how to teach students remotely, the Muscogee County School District began planning to implement a virtual learning program.
Superintendent David Lewis had incorporated this part of his 10-year strategic plan when the MCSD Board of Directors hired him in 2013 from Polk County, Florida.
On Tuesday evening, the board unanimously approved the superintendent’s recommendation to hire a director for the program.
Stacy Martin, an English teacher at Double Churches Middle School, has been promoted to lead the program which will start at the start of next school year.
Martin referenced MCSD’s mission and vision statements when she told the Ledger-Enquirer in an email, “I believe we have the opportunity to create an exceptional online program where our students are known, empowered and inspired to reach unlimited potential.”
Lewis told LE he recommended Martin out of 17 candidates and five interviewees.
“Ms. Martin has wide and varied experiences as a high school and middle school teacher, high school vice principal and CTAE director, as well as teaching and programming online,” Lewis said in an e -mail.
“During the interviews, she conveyed the knowledge base, characteristics, leadership and creativity deemed essential to the planning and development of our district’s startup virtual franchise,” Lewis said. “This was corroborated by reference checks making her the consensus choice of the interview team.”
Martin has been an English teacher since 2020 at Double Churches Middle School, where she chairs the ELA department and is part of the school’s leadership team.
According to her resume, she has years of experience in education, including serving as a supervisor at the Georgia Teacher Academy for Preparation and Pedagogy and as an assistant principal and director of vocational, technical and agricultural education at the Dawson County High School.
She taught English and Graphic Communication at Harris County High School and also worked at Mountain Education Charter High School as a career specialist and tutor.
Martin earned a Specialist Diploma in School Leadership from North Georgia College and State University in 2011; a master’s degree in educational administration and leadership from the University of Troy in 2008; and a bachelor’s degree in English with a teaching certificate from Columbus State University in 1994. She graduated from Harris County High School in 1984 and attended MCSD Clubview, St. Elmo, Richards, Arnold, and Columbus schools.
According to MCSD’s plan, the program’s estimated start-up cost is $182,000 and grows to $1,058,000 in the third year of operation with a target enrollment of 350 students by then.
A mix of synchronous and asynchronous online courses will be offered. This means that part of the instruction will have a teacher interacting with students on the screen at the same time, and other parts of the program will have students working on their own time.
The weekly teaching pattern for the MCSD program will have four synchronous days and one asynchronous day.
In the first academic year of the program, 2022-23, MCSD plans to offer the following courses:
- Ninth grade: Literature, Algebra I, Physics, US Government/Citizenship, Fitness/Personal Health, Spanish I, and enrollment-based options.
- 10th year: literature, geometry, biology, universal history, Spanish II and options on registration.
MCSD plans to expand the program to eighth and eleventh grades in 2023-24 and to sixth, seventh and twelfth grades in 2024-25.
Proximity Learning, based in Austin, Texas, will provide teachers for the first year of the program and part of the second year. According to its website, Proximity runs classes on more than 30 subjects for more than 200 schools in 20 states.
The initial use of Proximity teachers will allow MCSD teachers who wish to work in the program to receive the required professional development and online teaching credentials. The program will be staffed entirely by MCSD teachers beginning in its third year.
No procedure for registering students in the program has been established.
“That information has not yet been determined, it is the purpose of hiring this position now so that they can be the resource person for the development of the program,” Lewis said.
The director’s goal
Martin wants the MCSD program to “set the standard” for virtual learning because it gives students “more choice, flexibility, and ultimately superior learning with post-graduate success.”
To do this, she intends to be a servant leader.
“My door is always open,” she said. “Teachers are empowered not only to innovate and design learning opportunities for students, but they must also be encouraged to expand their professional capabilities and make virtual classroom environments more personalized, engaging and enjoyable.”
Students should be at the center of all decisions, Martin said, “where the emphasis is on mutual respect for one another and a curriculum that encourages innovation, risk-taking, critical thinking and positive relationships”.
This story was originally published January 18, 2022 7:01 p.m.