JOPLIN, Mo. (KODE) – We continue our look back at the Joplin 2011 tornado and its impact on local students.
A string of new schools have opened up for class since that devastating storm, but it wasn’t just the facilities that needed replacing.
There were countless desks, chalkboards, and textbooks missing.
A tremendous loss led to a big opportunity.
“I did kind of always think it was big and but I went here all four years in my high school so I mean I kind of got used to it along the road,” says Olivia Putney, Joplin High School Senior.
Now, Putney appreciates the benefits of a big school for her future career in early childhood education.
“I have already been offered a position at a preschool program here in Joplin, so I feel like I’ll probably work that while I’m in college, full time,” she says.
Education at Joplin High School is very different than it was before the tornado.
What had been a traditional classroom wasn’t coming back.
“People had a lot of questions about, will there be textbooks, will there be this, will there be that?” says Justin Crawford, Joplin Schools.
Joplin school leaders decided to move Joplin High School to one-to-one education, one laptop for each of the 2,200 students.
“It was gonna be a new game, we’re gonna do things differently, a lot of things that we had kind of dabbled in or tried to a little small degree but we were really all in now we’re going to use computers in the classroom we’re going to use Google Docs, you know, we’re going to work more collaboratively with students,” says Dr. Kerry Sachetta, Joplin Schools Assistant Superintendent.
They didn’t have much time to get ready, starting with the teachers.
The timeline was on fast forward compared to other districts
“When you look at integrating a one to one program in a school district, you know, they look at a two to three year implementation plan and, and this was two to three months,” says Crawford.
They built in some extra support for instructors looking at their classrooms in a whole new way.
“Hire people to help teach our teachers,” says Sachetta.
Just distributing that many laptops was a big event, and then there were the charging stations and repair shops to deal with students learning to care for their own technology.
“I think there was a huge learning curve for all of us,” says Crawford.
The changes weren’t restricted to technology, but how students learn and the right environment to encourage that.
“You know, the sliding doors to allow those open we have other open spaces as well and so every room had a projector so that things could be presented on the walls. I know that they had walls that were special paint so they can be written on and wiped off like write boards and. And so there were a lot of those different things that were taken into consideration to allow different modes and avenues of learning,” says Crawford.
Even when students went to class changed.
“We put a new bell schedule,” says Sachetta.
School leaders started making changes at the temporary school at Northpark Mall, but built on to those advances with the permanent replacement.
Unique study spaces, areas designated for group instruction outside the classroom, even a coffee shop for students to get a taste of real world.
“To try to allow kids as many opportunities to learn as they can in the different ways that they learn is exciting, is something every school should do,” says Crawford.
So, after three years and $124 million, the Eagles had a new, high-tech nest giving students a new path toward a 21st century education.