The Pattonville School District partnered with Launch to provide students with virtual education opportunities that help with both earning a high school diploma and achieving post-secondary goals.
Changes to Missouri’s virtual education law and MOCAP (the Missouri Course Access and Virtual School Program) have prompted many districts to seek out virtual learning options. While this includes districts who are just now looking to offer virtual learning opportunities, it also includes districts that have used other virtual learning platforms in the past. These districts want to learn what is required by law, research what is available and make sure they are offering what is best for students. The latter was the case for Pattonville—a school district in the St. Louis area—so they set up a meeting to learn more about Launch. Read on to learn about the district’s partnership process and understand some of the multiple ways they utilize the program to meet all types of student needs.
Forming a Partnership
Odetta Smith, Director of Innovation & Life Readiness at the Pattonville School District, explains that a team of district leaders originally met with Launch's Director, Dr. Nichole Lemmon. “We wanted to go with a virtual learning program that provided us with a few key things,” says Odetta. “One thing was access to curriculum aligned to Missouri Learning Standards.” After meeting with Dr. Lemmon, Odetta was confident in Launch’s ability to meet this qualification—she learned how all of Launch’s courses are written with teachers, developers and curriculum specialists at Springfield Public Schools. “We liked that it is a public school district—Springfield Public Schools—that creates and designs Launch courses,” Odetta says.
The Pattonville School District also wanted to make sure the virtual learning program they selected had courses taught by Missouri-certified teachers. Since all Launch instructors teach at Launch partner school districts and are highly qualified in their content area, this need was also met. The administrators in Pattonville soon decided to partner with Launch.
Working Better, Together
Odetta and other administrators and educators in the Pattonville School District are happy to work with Launch team members to provide what’s best for students. “We really appreciate the strong partnership we have,” Odetta says. “Nichole helps us with a lot of components of the virtual law, like ADA requirements and proper state reporting. She’s helped us in designing our own schedule so everything matches up. These are services that Launch offers that other vendors don’t, so it’s super helpful.”
Another Launch benefit that Pattonville administrators appreciate is connecting with other Launch partner districts around St. Louis. “We really like the ability to connect with other partner schools,” Odetta says. “We’ll reach out and learn how other districts are using it. It’s helped us think through these next steps to make sure the program is successful for all of our students.”
“We liked that it is a public school district—Springfield Public Schools—that creates and designs Launch courses.”
Getting Students Started
Students in the Pattonville School District are engaging in Launch courses in a variety of ways. “The bulk of our courses right now are credit recovery,” Odetta says. “But we have some students enrolled in classes we do not offer. We have some students working off campus, for example, a middle school student who is working off campus.”
Some of these students first meet with Michael Boulanger, the counselor for positive school—an alternative program in he Pattonville School District. “For me, it’s much more about that one-on-one conversation,” Michael says. “We want to sit down with students and really explain what online learning looks like. We also consider the student’s learning habits and how they may align with online learning.” Another thing Michael discusses with students is what they want to do after high school. “Our students come up with post-secondary goals, and together we figure out how we can utilize programs like Launch to help them accomplish their goals. I think discussing it with students this way helps them with their success.
Paving the Path to Post-Secondary Goals
Pattonville High School senior Joseph Brown is one of many PHS students who has worked with Michael to come up with a post-high school plan. “I’m taking government with Launch right now,” Joseph says. Joseph hopes to become a firefighter after he graduates. “In the mornings, I go to North County Tech to take a firefighting class,” Joseph says. “Then I drive here for the rest of my classes, but my government class is only offered in the morning.” Launch provides Joseph the ability to take both his firefighting class and government class, all while staying on track for graduation.
Devin Henson is another student who works with Michael and takes Launch courses. “When Devin came into our program he was credit deficient,” Michael says. But he worked last summer to make up some courses with Launch’s credit recovery offerings, and he’s making up two more previously failed courses right now. “Launch allows Devin to catch up on acquiring the credits he needs so he can still graduate and accomplish his post-secondary goal,” Michael says. This goal is to go into the Army. “I’m currently enlisted in the Army reserves,” Devin says. “It’s nice to have a resource like Launch to use to get caught up—you just have to have the want or the drive to do the work. But it’s great for me because it’s available at any time.”
Pattonville at a Glance
K-12 Enrollment: 6,015
High School Population: 1,728
MASA District: Greater St. Louis
School Colors: Green and White
Fun Fact: Pattonville consists of 27 square miles and encompasses parts of the municipalities of Bridgeton, Maryland Heights, St. Ann, and a small portion of Creve Coeur.