Learn the multiple ways Nixa Public Schools uses Launch to serve its K-12 learners.
Nixa Public Schools became a Launch partner district when the program began in 2017. “We have been easing into Launch the last couple of years to provide more opportunities and choices for our secondary students,” says Dr. Josh Chastain, the district’s executive director of curriculum, instruction & assessment. But after the COVID-19 pandemic closed the doors of schools nationwide last spring, the district needed a plan—and it needed it fast. “We had to make sure we could meet the needs of all of our students K-12,” Dr. Chastain says. “Instead of moving and rushing to develop a create-your-own program, we looked to Launch.”
Utilizing Launchís Content Catalog
In early summer 2020, Dr. Chastain began meeting with members of the Launch management team to discuss the program’s content catalog option. “We liked the content catalog because it allowed us to use our own teachers,” Dr. Chastain says. “Launch provides the platform, curriculum and resources, and our teachers are able to put the Nixa spin on it.”
Nixa Public Schools currently has more than 350 full-time K-5 students enrolled with Launch, and the vast majority of these students are educated through the district’s own teachers. Nixa’s number of Launch learners jumps to over 800 when you include middle and high school students, and content teachers are in place for the most-popular secondary courses as well. “And we still have students enrolled in classes with a Launch teacher of record,” Dr. Chastain says. “We are continuing to allow students to enroll in Launch for courses we typically don’t offer at our high school.”
“Teaching with Launch looks a lot different than the online teaching we all tried last spring. The Launch program has made it much more organized.”
Setting Up for Success
Nixa has 18 full-time K-5 teachers and two full-time special education teachers instructing Launch courses. Third grade teacher Kathryn Martin is among these 20, as she made the move to online earlier this fall after nearly 20 years in the classroom. “Teaching with Launch looks a lot different than the online teaching we all tried last spring,” Mrs. Martin says. “The Launch program has made it much more organized. It’s so much easier on parents, too, because I’m actually online with the students—I’m not just sending home packets or plans.”
Mrs. Martin conducts her online teaching from her classroom at Nixa’s John Thomas School of Discovery—the same place that she taught her seated students—but her desk looks a bit different this year. “I actually have a 43-inch TV monitor for my screen,” Mrs. Martin says. “When we started I just had my laptop, but I kept getting frustrated. It was so small—it was hard to see my 22 students on such a little screen. My husband helped me get this set up.” After members of Nixa’s board of education witnessed Mrs. Martin teaching on the big screen, it was decided all Nixa online teachers will be provided the same set up.
A Glimpse in the Online Classroom
Although Mrs. Martin’s third graders aren’t physically with her in the classroom this year, she still has a close relationship with each of them. “My students are very precious to me,” Mrs. Martin says. “Just hearing them talk or seeing their faces—it makes me happy.” And she works to create a culture in which the students have relationships with one another as well. “We interrupt things,” says Mrs. Martin. “If we’re on a Zoom and a dog walks into the picture, we want to know the dog’s name. We ask about one another’s families. Things like that.”
Mrs. Martin’s goal was to create a virtual culture that was just as healthy as the culture she always created in the classroom—and it worked. Just ask 8-year-old Kyleigh (pictured). “I was kind of sad at first because I knew I wouldn’t see my friends by going full-time online,” Kyleigh says. “But now, I like this a lot. It feels the same, because I still have friends! And we do our work together but we also all play games together. We get to play hangman and things like that.” And while no one knows what awaits next year or even next semester, Kyleigh does know one thing for sure... “I’m definitely staying online if Mrs. Martin stays online,” she says. “She’s the greatest teacher in the whole world.”
Nixa at a Glance
K-12 Enrollment: 6,348
MASA District: Southwest
School Colors: Gray and Red
Fun Fact: Before Nixa was officially incorporated as a village in 1902, a town meeting was held to select its name. Here it was stated that “nix” best described the community, as it was “nothing but a crossroads.” An “A,” the middle initial of early civic leader Nicholas A. Inman, was added to arrive at the winning title of Nixa.