Pulaski Heights Middle School alters remote learning

“There was no teacher and student interaction and that is a very integral part of what our students need to experience,” the principal said.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — It’s not even a month into school and across the state, many districts have already had to monitor and adjust to new challenges. 

One school in Little Rock made changes to its virtual learning, which some parents said made a major difference.

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It was just two weeks into the school year that administrators and teachers at Pulaski Heights Middle School recognized that something need to be changed. 

That something, according to Principal Darryl Powell, was the ability to provide a truly virtual experience for their students and parents. 

“Our students need to see our teachers. Our students need to hear our teachers voices and they need to feel as though they’re actually in school,” he said. 

That feeling of being a part of the class was something sixth grader Ian Starke, and many other virtual students at Pulaski Heights Middle School, weren’t getting, according to Starke’s mother, Mickie. 

“It was so many things. Everybody was learning everything new and trying to get established and figure out what the schedule was going to be,” she said. 

Starke described those weeks as “chaotic,” but Powell said she wasn’t the only one who felt the struggle.

“On both ends, we kind of realized we need to make some type of alterations to the plans that we originally put in place,” he said. 

According to Powell, originally teachers were not required to do a video conference session for the virtual students, which meant students could log onto the district’s Schoology system and complete their work at any time during the day. 

“There was no teacher and student interaction and that is a very integral part of what our students need to experience; particularly, at the grade levels of 6th, 7th, and 8th grade,” he said. 

Now, Powell said they require students to log in at their scheduled class time, the teachers instruct the virtual students and students on campus and at home can engage with each other. 

“This is what our students really need from us. Sometimes it’s not about the content that we are teaching our students, but a lot of times it’s about the composition of how we interact with our students and show them that we care,” he said. 

Both Powell and Starke are in agreement, it’s still a work in progress, but improvements will be made day by day. 

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“I am extremely grateful. This is a tough situation and they’re still just trying to meet all the challenges,” Starke said. 

Each individual school within the Little Rock School District has the power to alter how they choose to run their virtual classes.