Why We Launch: Seymour

Savannah WaszczukAccess Launch, Why We Launch

At Seymour High School, nearly 40 percent of students are enrolled in at least one Launch course. A designated learning lab provides these students a place to work, interact and take classes that are often not offered seated.

SHS counselor Amy Barlow (right) helps student Bailey Moffis plan her schedule.

Near the end of her junior year, Seymour High School student Justus Benson received some disappointing news from her former high school counselor. “He told me I probably wasn’t going to be able to graduate on time,” Justus says. Justus is a motivated, talented student, and she excelled in her English and art classes. It was science and math where she needed extra support, and she needed to recover credits.
     At the time, Seymour was providing its students virtual credit recovery opportunities, but the courses were offered through a national, for-profit company, and the program wasn’t as successful as the district hoped. Students were struggling their way through the program’s courses, and tech-related issues often caused frustration and discouragement. At the pace things were moving, Justus wasn’t going to have time to both recover courses and still earn the credits she needed to graduate with her cohort class.
     Fast forward one year, and Justus is now nearing the end of her senior year on track to graduate on time. She credits this in large part to Launch, which the district partnered with at the start of the 2018-2019 school year. “Launch works a lot better for me, because it gives me more time to work through and understand things,” Justus says. “I like how Launch breaks the assignments and units down. It has more videos to explain things, and it even reads things to me if I needed help.”

Building Paths for Student Success
When Seymour High School Counselor Amy Barlow joined the SHS staff in summer 2018, she suggested the district partner with Launch to provide students virtual course opportunities. She came to Seymour with experience using Launch in both the Marshfield and Springfield school districts, so she knew of its success. “The national program Seymour was using didn’t seem to align with our Missouri standards as much, and it made a difference,” Amy says. “I think that’s why our kids weren’t as successful in those credit recovery courses.” Amy was no stranger to the district—she actually spent a year there for her student teaching. “I had Justus when she was a freshman, and I came back her senior year,” Amy says.
     While Seymour now uses Launch for all of its credit recovering offerings, the district also allows students to earn credits in Launch’s traditional virtual and credit recovery courses. In fact, nearly 40% of the district’s 180 high school students are enrolled in some type of Launch course. “It’s been a great extension of our curriculum, because we are such a small district,” Barlow says. “AP and dual credit courses have been great for our students. They also love the expanded electives.”
     An expanded catalog is great for students like Bailey Moffis, who is currently a sophomore and is already mapping the path to her college education and a future career as a dermatologist. “I’m taking AP Government and Spanish I right now,” Bailey says. “I like that Launch allows me to manage my time however I want, and how it’s allowing me to take more classes that I’ll need for college one day.”

A Learning Lab for Launch
As districts consider partnering with Launch, they often ask a common question: Where will students sit during the hour (or hours) they are in a Launch class? This is a district-level decision, but many districts across the state are creating “Launch Labs” for students to utilize as they take their online courses. “We have a learning lab where students taking online courses are able to work,” Amy says. In Seymour, students who are taking dual credit courses through local universities also utilize the lab. “It’s available to students seven hours a day, and we have a teacher there to monitor students and provide support,” Amy says. This teacher is Abby Ruiz, who has been in education for 30 years. “Adding Launch has been the best move for our students,” Abby says. “Our students have been so much more successful, and I have seen new-found confidence in them. It makes me love my job so much more.”
     Both Justus and Bailey spend time with Abby in the learning lab, and they also both work on Launch at home. They say they’re grateful to have options. “Mrs. Barlow got me a computer and wireless internet,” Justus says. “I like having the flexibility to work at home. I play softball and I babysit, so sometimes I stay up late working on Launch after everything else.” Bailey balances a job at McDonald’s with her coursework, and she also takes advantage of the flexible schedule. “I can manage my time how I want,” Bailey says. For Seymour’s additional 68 Launch students, situations are similar, and the district is happy to provide them expanded opportunities. “From credit recovery to advanced offerings, we have many students enrolled,” Amy says. “It reaches every gamut.”

Seymour at a Glance
K-12 Enrollment: 716
High School Population: 180
MASA District: Southwest
School Colors: Maroon and White
Mascot: Tiger
Fun Fact: Every September, many SHS alumni travel back home for the annual Seymour Apple Festival. The town began celebrating the annual fall festival almost 50 years ago to honor its original cash crop—Seymour was among the state’s leading apple producers in the early 1900s.