When Chris Long accepted the K-12 Principal position at Golden City R-II, he and his fellow administrators faced a challenge that is becoming all too familiar at schools statewide: they had recently lost a Science teacher, and they were having trouble finding a new one. “When I started, I was told that Launch was one of the options the district was looking at,” says Long.
As the Fall 2021 semester crept closer, the district was relieved to find Angela Mooney, a teacher-in-training who was excited to take on the job. But Mooney was hesitant to jump in 100 percent, as she was still working on earning her degree. “That’s where our partnership with Launch came in,” Long says. Golden City enrolled all students taking Science courses into Launch courses so those students would be served by a Launch teacher, and those students also sat in the classroom with Mrs. Mooney for extra assistance.
Getting Started Online
Golden City students had no prior experience with online courses before they started with Launch, so it took a bit of work to get everyone on track and up to date—students, families and teachers included. “Once we got part of the way through the first quarter, we all started settling in,” Long says. “That’s also when I started realizing how good of a teacher Mrs. Mooney was. We had some students who were struggling, including some special education students, but Mrs. Mooney worked with Launch to get plans in place. That’s when we started to see our special education students flourish.”
As she reflects on the start of the fall semester, Mrs. Mooney agrees with Principal Long. “Online learning was a new experience for these students, and several of them needed some encouragement,” Mrs. Mooney says. “But for the most part, they were good once they figured out how to navigate it all.” She continues to speak on the quality of Launch. “There was a lot of good material built into the curriculum,” Mrs. Mooney says. “Launch did a good job of challenging our students, and I can see it greatly benefiting some of our students moving forward.”
A Student’s Perspective
If 16-year-old Kona Daniel (pictured opposite, above) were asked to offer a new Launch student one piece of advice, she knows exactly what she would say. “Always watch your announcement videos!,” Kona says. Kona earned her Intro to Biology credit with Launch last year as one of approximately 45 Golden City Science students. “A lot of the kids in my class wanted to just start working on their assignments, but then they’d be confused later on,” Kona says. “The teacher always shared important information in those videos.”
Kona often worked with her friend, Angel Lee, as they sat side by side in the classroom. “I’d pull up Gizmos on my computer, and she would pull up our assignment on hers,” Kona says. Gizmos is the name for the interactive virtual labs that Launch builds into its Science curriculum. “Gizmos assignments were my favorite part of the online Biology class,” Kona says. “It was fun to get a new assignment and go through and play with the lab itself, pushing buttons and figuring it all out. It was easy to use, too. But that’s the other thing—if I ever had questions, the teacher was quick to help. I would tell new students to never be afraid to ask for help.”
“Our experience using Launch’s certified teacher was a very positive one, and we are looking forward to using the program in different ways moving forward.”
The Future of Launch in Golden City
While Mrs. Mooney will teach Science classes solo next year, Principal Long says the district still has plans to utilize Launch. “Moving forward, we plan to use Launch to offer our students expanded electives and credit recovery classes,” he says. “Our experience using Launch’s certified teacher was a very positive one, and we are looking forward to using the program in different ways moving forward. My takeaway is, if a first year principal, a first year counselor and AP and an uncertified teacher can make it work, it’s a well-built program.”
Golden City at a Glance
K-12 Enrollment: 184
High School Population: 97
MASA District: Southwest
School Colors: Gold & White
Fun Fact: Golden City is home to Cooky’s Cafe, a small-town restaurant that’s known statewide for serving up an incredible amount of homemade pies!