Expanding Options in Neosho

Savannah WaszczukAccess Launch, District Profiles

The Neosho High School counseling team appreciates how Launch provides them one more tool to meet student needs.

The Neosho School District believes its students deserve as many options as possible—by partnering with Launch, they are providing a tool to help all types of learners.

When Neosho High School student Sarah Martinez sat down to plan her junior year schedule, she hit a bit of a roadblock while trying to take a foreign language class. “I’m a native Spanish speaker,” Sarah says. “This means I can’t take Spanish. But that’s the only seated foreign language offered at Neosho High School.” Fortunately, the Neosho School District is a Launch partner, so Sarah had expanded foreign language opportunities online. She enrolled in Launch’s French I course. “Launch gave me an opportunity to learn a language I would not have been able to otherwise,” Sarah says.
     Classmate Emma Tribbey was in a similar situation. “We don’t have a lot of music offerings here,” Emma says. Emma enrolled in Launch’s Fine Arts Appreciation: Music and Music Theory courses, as well as Launch’s AP History course. “AP U.S. History wasn’t working with my schedule, so I decided to take it online as well,” Emma says. These two student scenarios are perfect examples of why the counseling team at Neosho High is grateful for their Launch partnership.

Opportunities for All
As the Neosho High School counselors chat around a conference room table, their conversation illustrates their true passion for doing what’s best for all students. After first partnering with Launch, the district enrolled an at-risk student into a full Launch schedule. The student was no longer attending school. “Launch gave us another opportunity to try,” says Mickey Sandford, the 11th grade counselor. Jacob Oakes, the senior counselor, agrees. “It’s nice to be able to try everything we can,” Jacob says. “I really like the flexibility of Launch, especially for kids who are having hardships or kids that are medically fragile and might not otherwise be able to get a traditional education.”
     In addition to helping at-risk students, the team also utilizes Launch to help traditional students—students like Sarah and Emma. “Launch helps us greatly expand our course catalog,” Mickey says. “If we don’t have it, we’ll find it. We’ll look to see if Launch has it.”  But Mickey is also the first to admit—a new partnership was a bit nerve-wracking at first. “I was afraid we were going to do away with teachers,” he says. “I thought, if everybody does Launch, we won’t need these people. And I didn’t like it.” But he soon learned the true mission of Launch—providing access and accessibility when needed, as needed. “Then after we enrolled our first student, you all mailed us a computer for the student to use,” Mickey says. “I thought, ‘Who are these people, just giving us computers?’ After that, I knew you were going to take care of us, and you were going to take care of our kids. And I liked that.’”

The Launch Difference
Heather Hughes, the freshman counselor, says she was also a bit nervous about partnering with Launch in the beginning. This changed after Launch’s first Neosho engagement visit. “I think your meeting with us—when you all came out and visited with us—that really put my mind at ease,” Heather says. As a part of Launch’s engagement strategy, our team regularly visits partners to answer questions and meet with students. “Putting some faces with the program—and knowing that you all would be there to support us and knowing that you came to Neosho just to explain everything to us—that was the best thing for me while getting started.”
     This relationship building is a huge part of Launch not only with partners, but also with teachers and students. By limiting class sizes and providing our teachers with a list of expectations—they are expected to provide timely feedback, to build relationships with students, to call home when needed—we strive to provide an elevated quality of online learning. “I talk with my teacher a lot,” Sarah says. “Launch also provides the ability for a web conference, where I can see my teacher through my computer, even though I can’t see her in real life. I think that’s pretty cool.”
     Launch’s online classes are also built to be as dynamic as possible, so students have opportunities to work with students all over the state. “I really like how interactive Launch is,” says Emma, who has taken online classes with another online provider in the past. “I get to see how other students are learning and how they’re understanding the material. I think that helps me understand the material as well.”
   As more and more Neosho students enroll in Launch courses, the word continues to spread. “In the beginning, students heard about Launch from us,” Heather says. “But now students are talking about it, and they’re hearing about it from each other. Parents are calling—the kids are really marketing it for us.” And now that the district is off to a successful start, they’re ready to expand—the district is actually adding all Launch courses to its selection of studies for next fall. “We’re seeing success for our upper level students who are working to get into advanced courses,” Heather says. “It’s a new push for our kids—they’re wanting to take more, and now we can offer it to them.”

Neosho at a Glance
K-12 Enrollment: 4,753
High School Population: 1,307
MASA District: Southwest
School Colors: Black and Gold
Mascot: Wildcat
Fun Fact: Neosho is often referred to as “the City of Springs.” Nine springs and a network of streams and tributaries have provided the town’s residents easy access to a clear and abundant water supply throughout the city’s history.