Jon Castelhano, Executive Director of Technology at Gilbert Public Schools in suburban Phoenix, Arizona, is making lemonade. Instead of stopgap measures to make it through the COVID-19 crisis, his district is crafting strategic changes with an eye toward the long term. These are ideas long talked about but never implemented in the 40 schools that serve 34,000 students. For it to work, faculty need to reinvent themselves too. In this conversation with eSchool News, Jon describes how they intend to do just that.
ESN: What does your fall look like at the moment?
JC: We are developing a number of options for families. The first is a complete online option, which is really just our current virtual academy. The one I’m excited about is our flex option—think blended/hybrid type model for our elementary schools and a little different flex look at the high school. It’s similar to what some kids do now where they might take a few classes on campus but then take a couple online.
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That used to be just a special case in the past, but now it will be for anyone. If your student wants to come for three hours in the morning and then do their other two classes online, then they’ll go onto our online global online school for that. They’ll still be able to participate in everything that they want as far as extracurriculars goes.