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    By Clay Gahan, Dean of Faculty and Upper School English Teacher

    Like most schools around the world, in the early weeks of March, the entire Louisville Collegiate School community motivated to transition our classes and programs from face-to-face delivery--the system and process that our school has cultivated and been committed to for over 100 years--to distance learning. It is not an understatement to say that this was a seismic task, and yet at the core, the purpose and mission stay the same.

    If anything, this semester’s disruption from the Novel Coronavirus has demonstrated that Louisville Collegiate School is positioned very well for distance learning because of our size and focus on relationships. These relationships are just one of the many reasons we are ranked the #1 Best Private School in Kentucky by Niche.com. While there are countless platforms and methods for facilitating effective distance learning, research suggests that the critical foundation for effective online learning is a strong sense of community with a shared belief that working together will foster meaningful, authentic learning. Who we are and how we build relationships has made distance learning work very well. Being small by design has allowed us to retain our close-knit relationships and has given us an unexpected advantage in distance learning.

    This is not to say that Collegiate is without some valuable technological and professional advantages to aid in the transition. Collegiate has, for the past five years, maintained a partnership with Global Online Academy (GOA), a consortium of schools across the world that coordinate together to offer online classes like Arabic, Bioethics, and Linear Algebra that are not available among our face-to-face offerings. Louisville Collegiate School is the only GOA member school in Kentucky. Moreover, our membership in GOA has allowed several of Collegiate’s teachers the opportunity to lead online classes in their disciplines and take advantage of the resources and training that GOA provides for all of its teachers. The initial response for many students, teachers, and families in the face of this transition is to feel overwhelmed about establishing new routines, learning new technologies, and questioning what to keep the same and what to change. Our teachers who work with GOA have great insights to allay many of these anxieties, directing our faculty to the best-researched practices for online delivery, including finding the right balance between synchronous and asynchronous lessons, identifying the best platforms for working with different age groups, and developing effective and manageable routines for student feedback.

    The best part is that these built-in advantages like size, community, and professional development have allowed our teachers and students to devote less time figuring out just how to survive and more time to thinking creatively about how to excel in these unexpected circumstances. We have students chronicling their time in quarantine in poems, art teachers collaborating with local businesses to create an online art gallery, students recording podcasts, awesome physical education challenges for every age group, and the list goes on. Louisville Collegiate School is better in-person, and we are very eager to see one another on our beautiful campus, but it has been inspiring to discover that we have the shared commitment, talent, and creativity to maintain our mission even in these difficult circumstances.

    Cover photo courtesy of Louisville Collegiate.