The eSchool Media K-12 Hero Awards, sponsored by Trox, highlights inspiring examples of education during the COVID-19 pandemic

This S.C. district leader made student safety and mental health a top focus during COVID

The eSchool Media K-12 Hero Awards, sponsored by Trox, highlights inspiring examples of education during the COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, and that means educators across the globe are still finding inventive and innovative ways to support and teach students in classrooms, during hybrid instruction, and in virtual settings.

The eSchool Media K-12 Hero Awards program, sponsored by Trox, recognizes the determined and dedicated efforts of educators throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Never before have educators been challenged and tested as they were, beginning in March 2020 and up until today, and never before has their resilience been more apparent. Administrators, technology leaders, classroom teachers, and educators in all roles have persevered as they taught each and every one of their students during a global pandemic.

Here, eSchool News highlights Greenville County Schools–one of its K-12 Hero Awards finalists. Keep reading to discover how this district keeps learning going in the middle of a global pandemic.

Nominee: Greenville County Schools

Nominated by: Gaggle

What makes this nominee a hero?

When South Carolina closed school buildings across the state last year, Jeff McCoy and his team sprang into action, working diligently to accommodate the district’s educators and students. As the Associate Superintendent for Academics at Greenville County Schools, McCoy knew how important it was to keep students engaged in their education from wherever they were.

He quickly launched the district’s virtual learning school, ensuring continuous learning for 23,000 students from the onset of the pandemic. Getting one-third of the district’s students set up with e-learning in mere days was no easy lift for McCoy’s team, but these efforts showcased their dedication to both students and academics.

Throughout the pandemic, McCoy and his team continued to implement, coach, and support professional development courses for the educators in the district. Approximately 2,000 educators participated in these sessions to ensure they were successfully engaging students in their education during the pandemic. This allowed both educators teaching remotely and those teaching in the brick-and-mortar environment to continue with their PD efforts during this unpredictable time.

McCoy’s commitment to creating and sharing best practices with educators throughout Greenville County Schools showcases his tremendous dedication to teaching and learning. The vast number of educators voluntarily joining the virtual learning sessions is a testament to his passion for education.

Last October, McCoy and his team made digital safety top of mind for the district. After seven months of navigating the pandemic, they had witnessed so many struggling students and knew that action was necessary. Being unable to see students face to face made it nearly impossible to protect and support all of the students within the district, but McCoy and the senior leadership team recognized the importance of safeguarding students—especially in regards to depression and suicide.

Knowing they could be missing something, and just how unacceptable that idea was, McCoy heightened the district’s digital safety efforts to ensure students were being taken care of. This included altering the OnTrack process, a whole-child approach for early warning response with a team of school personnel to intervene with struggling students. At the first sign of a struggle in the virtual environment, students in distress are identified, preventative action is taken, 1:1 mentors are appointed, and the OnTrack team intervenes to provide the necessary supports to ensure student safety and well-being.  

Educators like Jeff McCoy make us all proud to work in education. His passion for teaching and learning—even in the toughest of times—is truly inspiring. Thanks to his efforts, students were able to remain engaged and safe throughout the pandemic. Whatever next year brings, the students and educators within Greenville County Schools are lucky to have his expertise and dedication as we move forward from this unusual time.

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Laura Ascione
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