Two new instructors will help students and teachers with remote learning, serving students in the Burrell eAcademy virtual program and those students in quarantine after exposure to others who test positive for COVID-19.
Morgan Rockwell and Lori Christie began work with the virtual learning program this fall in the Burrell School District. Rockwell works with students in sixth to 12th grade, while Christie serves students in kindergarten to fifth grade.
The district began its E-Academy virtual learning program in 2008 as a way for students to catch up remotely on course work over the summer. In partnership with districts across Westmoreland County and the Westmoreland Intermediate Unit, the program expanded in 2010 to include courses for students who would benefit year-round from virtual learning. In 2020-2021, Burrell eAcademy naturally became one of the three options the district offered for learning.
"Teaching during the pandemic was a challenge. The combination of instructing virtually and face to face simultaneously proved to be difficult," said Dr. John Boylan, Burrell High School's principal.
For the 2021-22 school year, classes resumed on campuses, students who chose to continue remote learning selected E-Academy as their permanent learning option. The two new instructors will work with those students and with those temporarily in quarantine during the pandemic.
Rockwell, who earned her degree in music education, served as a substitute before accepting the virtual learning position. She now helps about 50 students in middle school and high school navigate the remote learning experience. She monitors their grades, helps them stay caught up in lessons, and offers any other assistance they may need.
Christie is a former third-grade teacher who is returning to education after raising four children who all attended school in the district. She continued to stay involved in the district after leaving the classroom earlier, working with the PTA, youth programs, and as a sports booster.
Part of the job requires Christie to serve as a liaison between students and teachers because teachers are not always available to handle calls directly. She also answers questions about schoolwork and helps younger students navigate Google Classroom in their remote learning.
"It's very rewarding," she said. "And I didn't realize how much I enjoyed working with elementary school students."