Board hears great things about CSCS, eSchool

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CSCS and 21st Century eSchool Principal Jill Gurtner updated the Board of Education what is happening at the respective schools at the regular meeting on Monday, Jan. 8.

Gurtner said there have been conversations for two years about how students can benefit from the experiences offered by MHS, CSCS and the 21st Century eSchool. She also said another goal is to see how all of these schools be benefit students in the entire District.

She stressed that an online school experience provides blended learning and explained how can it lead to success for all students. She said the District held two live sessions and trained more than 50 staff in blended learning over the summer.

"We talked about how we can do things differently,'' Gurtner said. "How do we use technology to let technology do what it does well to give educators the time to do what they do well?''She said the 21st Century eSchool still benefits from its partnership with the Wisconsin Digital Network, which has provided resources to see how MCPASD can use this to innovate across the entire District and also assess the quality of the education. She stressed the key is designing quality online curriculum and that a half-dozen staff members have been trained in that area.

She also was excited to report that new District staff training was done using a blended format in August, including creating a video of themselves.

The 21st Century eSchool requires online students to come into the schools regularly, as getting interaction with educators helps them have more success, Gurtner said. She also reported that efforts are ongoing to create blended learning in a way that students never have to leave a school if they don't want to do so.

Gurtner reminded the Board that CSCS is all about engaging and empowering learners. She also raved about the school's ongoing partnership with UW-Madison.

CSCS students know learning doesn't have to be done just one way. A big focus is on how to help students create quality work and not just check a box. Staff are encouraged and trained on the types of conversations they can have to help students increase their level of empowerment.

"The connections students have with adults is huge,'' she said. "We want to give adults more opportunities to make those connections and help them learn how to engage students.''

Her hope is that the District uses information gleaned from the CSCS experience to help MCPASD decide where we go next.

Gurtner reported that while students often arrive at CSCS less hopeful than their peers they are more engaged and both their engagement and hope increase over time, according to the Gallup student survey that was offered to District students in grades 5-12.