Access for All: Albany

Savannah WaszczukAccess Launch, District Profiles

No Missouri student’s learning should be limited by zip code—Launch provides online course access to thousands of students in dozens of small school districts sprinkled throughout the state. Learn how it works in Albany, which has more than 60 of its 115 high school students enrolled in Launch courses.  

Sarah Barmann-Smith, Albany High School principal, pictured with AHS students enrolled in Launch courses.

If you’re an administrator in a northwest Missouri school district, you’re probably friends with many other administrators in many other northwest Missouri school districts. “Last year, we split a part-time Spanish teacher with Stanberry,” says Sarah Barmann-Smith, the principal at Albany High School. These types of partnerships aren’t unheard of in northwest Missouri—they’re actually rather common, as the small districts work together to provide the best for students. “We do that a lot in our region,” Barmann-Smith says. “We don’t want any of us to get stagnant. We share ideas—We find out what’s working over here so they can do it over there.”
Unfortunately for Albany and Stanberry, though, the shared Spanish teacher wasn’t able to return for the 2018–2019 school year. “Once we realized he wasn’t able to do this anymore, we were like, ‘Oh, no, this was perfect—how are we ever going to find another Spanish teacher?,’” Barmann-Smith says. That’s when the district turned to Launch. “We thought, ‘Well, Launch has these opportunities for Spanish,’” Barmann-Smith says. “After that, we looked into seeing what else Launch could help us offer.”
Fast forward six months, and Albany is now one of some 20 Launch district partners located in the northwest MIssouri region. Many of the school systems joined Launch to provide students expanded course access, and they’re all tailoring the program to fit their building’s specific needs. In Albany, a high school classroom is reserved for students who take Launch and other classes online. Throughout the day, 60 of the school’s 115 students occupy the space while working on their Launch courses. “It’s opened up so many things—it has really helped our schedule,” says Barmann-Smith, who is passionate about providing her students with as many opportunities as possible. “It’s been really great to have these possibilities for kids that we didn’t have before.”