SimpleK12 Success Story: Notre Dame Catholic School

Published On: November 1st, 2022·By ·

Florie Buono

The teachers and educators needed PD not only to help them teach their students more effectively but also for Certification Renewal and for future advancement.”

The Challenge

Principal Florie Buono wasn’t about to give up seeking help, but she was certainly stumped for solutions when it came to finding practical professional development (PD) opportunities for her educators at Notre Dame Catholic School in Spring Hill, FL. Because of her school’s distance from the Diocese and the closest major city, Saint Petersburg, Buono said her teachers would have to drive an hour and a half there and back to sit through four hours of in-person professional development training. And convincing an instructor to travel all the way to Spring Hill to her relatively small school seemed unrealistic. Although Diocesan-wide training is important for some things, there are times when teachers go to large group training with the concern that the PD may be a ‘one size fits all' model and may not cover what a particular teacher needs.

Buono wanted something better for her teachers than the status quo, and it needed to be something that would captivate and motivate them. 

“Meeting the needs of all of the teachers was a big pain point,” Buono said. “Teachers are just like students so when they feel their time is being wasted, they are more apt to not pay attention or sit there and complain through table buddies. So, when a particular professional development is not meeting that teacher’s needs, they get impatient. They want to grade papers.” 

The Journey

That’s when Buono was approached by one of the guidance counselors and a teacher at her school about SimpleK12, an innovative online Professional Development provider that consists of live instructor-led sessions, on-demand training, and 60-minute workshops. Both were already members of SimpleK12 to complete their PD on their own and suggested Buono look into providing SK12 (SimpleK12) for her entire teaching staff. 

Buono was intrigued enough to explore what SK12 had to offer.  She too came away convinced that she had found the perfect Professional Development solution for her educators. The ease and convenience of teachers being able to log onto their computers and access training of their choosing and at times convenient for them, convinced Buono she had found a great PD solution for her teachers. As a bonus, her teachers can receive relevant high-quality training created by teachers for teachers to earn certificates for yearly PD requirements.  

Buono can track what her teachers are learning without having to oversee the instruction. 

“You are getting webinars, about 30 minutes long, so the time chunk is perfect,” she said. “They can handle a 30-minute webinar, take a break, then go and do another 30-minute webinar- as many as they want.”       

“You are getting best practices from teachers in your field, using stuff that is relevant and important to what they are doing in their classroom. I believe most of the people giving these webinars are still in the field, so they are doing this on their own, on the side. So, they are not getting it from someone who taught 20 years ago. They are getting it from someone who is still there. I can’t speak enough about it; I am so enthusiastically for that.” 

When the teachers complete each training course, they receive a transcript to show that they have completed the course. The PD is necessary for continuing education for Certification Renewal and to advance in their career. 

Signs of Progress

Since introducing SK12 to her teachers last August, Buono has watched her teachers enthusiastically dive in and come out energized and more excited about the innovative ways to teach their students. 

She has found so many advantages of using SK12 that she can’t point to just one aspect as the biggest impact. 

“No.1 is time. No.2 is motivation,” Buono said. “The teachers are motivated; they are excited about being able to do it on their own time. I can’t speak enough about the online time. Getting people in the classroom or a room and say, `Now, you’ve got to do something. Here is a person in front of you and you are going to learn from them.’ That doesn’t work for every single person all the time.”  

“So, the flexibility of SimpleK12 is amazing. They can do it on the weekend. If they want to give up a Saturday to do some professional development … You’d be surprised how many teachers do that.” 

“There is also the best practices part of PD; Let's allow teachers to find what they need from teachers who are currently working in the classroom with unique, new ideas.” 

Additionally, Buono says many of the teachers have given the SK12 webinars great reviews. They have appreciated that it’s simple to use, efficient, best practices, and best of all saves time. 

“I like SimpleK12 because of the variety of topics,” one teacher at Notre Dame said. “I also appreciate the fact that I can download the app and listen to a session on my phone just about anywhere, a long car ride I can be listening.” 

“In addition to the convenience factor each session is only 30 minutes in length, making it more manageable,” another teacher noted.  “If I wanted to delve into the topic deeper, I can choose another session about the same topic.” 

Buono was able to get the cost of SK12 funded through Title II funds. 

Simplek12 will be with us going forward.” 

“The flexibility of SimpleK12 is amazing. They can do it on the weekend. If they want to give up a Saturday to do some professional development … You’d be surprised how many teachers do that.”

“Find it, dive in, do it… it's worth it.”

In Conclusion

Buono simply can’t say enough about the impact SK12 has had on her teachers. She has seen a lift in the morale of her teachers. There has been an uptick in all the measurables since the implementation of SK12. 

“Obviously the time savings is measured because we don’t have three hours of driving anymore,” Buono said. “I love going into the classroom and seeing it implemented or seeing them in the lunchroom talk about the things that they have used or incorporated into their classroom that they got from SimpleK12. Those are not really measured but they are something I can observe.” 

Buono's advice to others interested in pursuing and using SimpleK12 is clear and succinct. 

“Find it, dive in, do it,” she said. “Come see me. We will talk about it. It’s worth it. I wish I could get my entire Diocese on it.” 

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