Learning from Home: Greenbush Program

How the Greenbush Program will give students the option to continue remote learning when school is back in person

Elly Keyes, Reporter

Although attending school from your bedroom was not a well-known concept option prior to 2020, it is one of many changes in life that will remain long after the pandemic. As the spring semester progresses, USD 450 has begun looking into a program that would provide students the option to continue online learning even after schools are back in-person full-time: Greenbush Virtual Learning. 

By choosing to sign onto the program, the district would provide students with a way to receive a fully-virtual education as soon as the 21-22 school year. Greenbush is a program that works in Kansas, providing schools with services such as professional development courses, with the goal of improving education around the state. 

Since the district had already been familiar with Greenbush through the use of these resources, they decided to take advantage of the virtual program which is offered. Although students who enrolled in the program would do so through the district, they would become students of the Greenbush Virtual Academy and all classes would be done through here. 

“Greenbush Virtual Academy is a K-12 option. The 6th through 12th-grade students would work through courses in the Edgenuity platform. They would be assigned a licensed teacher for the content area to be available for questions or some reteaching of specific content as needed,” Stacey Bell, the district’s Director of Secondary Education, said. “Students would work through two classes at a time and pick up new classes upon completion of the assigned course.”

Through this role, she would work with principals and administrators to help students register and monitor their progress, as well as looking into whether this option could continue in the future. 

In addition to helping register, the district would remain alongside students choosing this program by checking in on their progress.

“The district would assign a counselor and/or administrator at each building to be responsible for working with the Academic Coach from Greenbush Virtual Academy for their students. There would be regular communications about progress,” Bell said.

Although learning would be done independently of the school in their area, students would return for state assessments and tests, such as the ACT.

While this option presents a better platform for students who experience school-related anxiety or enjoy working at their own pace, it would also mean missing the relationships built with others while in-person. 

“A negative aspect for students wanting to be completely virtual is that this option doesn’t allow for some coursework such as Band, Orchestra, and some other hands-on courses that USD 450 offers,” Bell said. “[However] Greenbush Virtual does offer some club opportunities and a student newspaper for students to network with other students around the state.”

This mix of benefits and struggles has made the decision to go back in-person or remote difficult for many students. 

“[In virtual learning] I can learn at my own pace, and I can look up additional information that can clarify a subject for me more easily than it could be communicated by a teacher,” Lily Harrison, sophomore, said. “However, if I do need teacher assistance, then I cannot easily ask for help. I also don’t have any schedule to keep me on track, nor do I have someone to check in with to confirm that I am making satisfactory progress.”

Because of the differences between these two styles of education, counselors and Greenbush representatives would meet with families to ensure that this is the correct path for them to take. 

Presently, the district has had informational meetings with Greenbush representatives in order to better explore this option. They plan to sign an agreement that would not hold the district financially accountable, but keep the option open for the students who need it. 

“We plan to sign an agreement with them prior to Feb. 12 to allow us to have the opportunity to participate if the need arises for some of our students.  If we do not sign the agreement by Feb. 12, this virtual option will not be possible for the 2021-2022 school year,” Bell said.