No Matter How Small
While the Everton School District is small in size, it aims to provide big opportunities for students—Launch helps by greatly expanding the high school’s course catalog.
Every August, Mr. Kip Spalding welcomes a group of Everton High School freshmen to his English I class. Twelve months later, those same students are sophomores, and Mr. Spalding greets them in that exact same classroom to teach them English II. The students return their junior and senior years, and Mr. Spalding continues to teach them English.
“Since we are such a small district, we only have one teacher for each subject in the high school,” says School Counselor Michelle Adams. During the 2017–2018 school year, Everton had 187 students K-12. “The good part of this is that we really get to know our kids,” Adams says. “I know every kid K-12 by name, and I know most of their parents by name too, probably.” What may be considered a disadvantage, though, is the district’s ability to provide expanded course access. “These teachers are teaching core classes six or seven hours a day, and they have a plan period,” Adams says. “We’re not able to offer a lot of elective classes or those classes that are a little more fun for our students. We’re kind of bare bones.”
To help aid this problem, Everton High School began offering Launch courses a little more than a year ago. Launch was immediately a popular option among students, as it vastly expanded course offerings and helped fill gaps in schedules. “Launch has allowed us to expand our offerings and give our students some of those courses that are a bit more creative or different than we’re able to offer with our small staff,” Adams says.
Jennifer Miller, who has taught Social Studies to Everton High School students for seven years, agrees. “I’m excited about the learning opportunities that Launch provides our students,” says Miller, who will be the district’s principal starting in fall 2018. “It helps us round out their education with opportunities that we can’t offer here.”
Providing opportunities is always top-of-mind for the staff at Everton School District, whether it’s by offering an expanded course catalog or by keeping students engaged in other ways. “We try to be the center of our kids’ lives, because outside of school there’s not really a way for them to keep busy here,” Adams says. “We look for ways to keep them involved and to do things to get them active in the community.” The school has a large population of students involved in Future Farmers of America (FFA), and the club participates in a variety of service projects. “The kids will do a lot of town clean ups and, ‘Hey, let’s mow this lady’s yard because she’s elderly,’” Adams says.
When it is time for school work, the students in Everton have no problem keeping busy. “Our kids are really well behaved,” Adams says. “They’re very respectful. It’s just really a great population.” And they’re also interested in moving forward after they wave goodbye to EHS—last year’s graduating class had 11 students, and all 11 had post-grad plans. “We had eight kids go on to college, and three went directly into the workforce,” Adams says. “One kid is going to Mizzou, and one is going to Missouri State—100 percent of the class has a plan to do something.”
Janie, a senior who plans to continue her education at Ozarks Technical Community College, took three Launch classes during her senior year. Janie needed her final English credit to meet graduation requirements, but she wasn’t interested in taking the advanced English class offered at EHS. Instead, she took Creative Writing with Launch. “I got really, really good at it,” Janie says. “My teacher for Creative Writing II said my sentence structure was really good after my Creative Writing I class.”
Joshua, a junior at Everton High School, also took creative writing with Launch. “Launch offered a lot more freedom to write about what I wanted to,” Joshua says. Joshua also liked working with his Launch teachers. “It was a lot more one-on-one,” Joshua says. “Since she could reply to people on her own time, when she replies to you she can go more into depth. She can be a lot more helpful sometimes.” Adams agrees, stating that the teachers are one of the biggest differences with Launch. “The teachers are a lot more involved on Launch that what I’ve seen with other programs,” she says. The district has changed its online course provider multiple times in the past few years, but Adams says they’re going to stick with Launch. “We weren’t happy with the program we were using before Launch because I had to be teacher and grade everything—all of that,” Adams says. “Dr. Janson had heard about Launch, and we decided to try it. And i’m so happy that he did.”