Towns County is a relatively small school district with 90 teachers serving about 1,000 students from kindergarten through 12th grade.
But when it comes to professional development for its teachers and educators, Towns County was a small school district facing the same challenges of a large district. Sure, Towns County had a plan in place, but it did not have the on-demand capacity to the meet the individualized needs of all of the teachers and paraprofessionals in the district.
The only professional development solution at the time required teachers and educators to travel over to the Regional Education Service Agency for training. It certainly wasn’t ideal.
“Our teachers and paraprofessionals all have to establish an annual professional learning goal and make progress toward this goal in order to be eligible to renew their educator license,” said Stephanie Moss, who serves as the district’s curriculum/personnel director. “Although we are a small district, the prospect of having the majority of our staff traveling to receive professional learning seemed rather daunting.”
Upon that realization, the small school district in Hiawassee, Georgia went seeking to find a professional development solution that can provide virtual on-demand learning opportunities to help support its teachers’ professional learning goals. It wasn’t long before Towns County discovered SimpleK12, which met its educators varied professional needs, allowing for more individualized training that is done virtually and at a pace that is comfortable for lifestyle teachers who have to balance their professional and personal lives.
We sat down recently with Ms. Moss to discuss how SimpleK12 has been helpful to Towns County School Districts overall and its educators specifically.
Question: How did you first hear about SimpleK12?
Moss: “I first heard about Simple K12 through an email advertisement.”
Question: How long had you been looking for a solution to the problem you wanted to solve with SimpleK12?
Moss: “I had been considering new solutions for a few months when I heard about Simple K12.”
Question: What other solutions besides SimpleK12 where you looking for?
Moss: “We had previously worked with PD360. Due to changes in pricing, and the platform we did not feel that the product met our needs.”
Question: What were a few of the reasons you decided to go with SimpleK12?
Moss: “Simple K12 is user friendly. The tiles for the webinars are easy for educators to access. The catalog is robust and continues to grow. Information about new offerings are shared via email regularly. I especially like that I have the option to upload district-specific content as well.”
Question: How long have you been using SimpleK12?
Moss: “We are in our fifth year using SimpleK12.”
Question: How many educators are currently using SimpleK12?
Moss: “Approximately 150 educators have access to Simple K12 in our district.”
Question: What are the job titles, grades, and number of educators using SimpleK12?
Moss: “Current Users: 12 Special Education Teachers 22 Special Education paraprofessionals Elementary Teachers: 4 Kindergarten, 4 First Grade, 4 Second Grade, 4 Third Grade, 4 5th Grade, 6 specials or exploratory teachers, 1 Gifted teacher, 1 ESOL teacher, 2 reading specialists, 15 regular education paraprofessionals, one counselor, one media specialist, 1 counselor, 1 principal, 1 assistant principal Middle School: 4 sixth grade, 4 seventh grade, 4 8th grade, 1 principal, 1 counselor, 1 regular ed. paraprofessional, 5 exploratory teachers High School: 9 Career, Technical and Agricultural Education teachers, 3 ELA teachers, 4 math teachers, 3 science teachers, 3 social studies, 1 counselor, 1 CTAE Director, 1 principal, 1 assistant principal 1 Special Education Director.”
Question: How do you and/or your district currently use SimpleK12?
Moss: “Currently teachers and paraprofessionals have Simple K12 available to support their individual professional learning goals. Additionally, there are required trainings that are assigned to various groups. Our paraprofessionals utilize Simple K12 to do professional learning when we have online learning days for inclement weather. This allows them to make up time while participating in professional learning.”
Question: What types of goals or tasks are you using SimpleK12 to accomplish?
Moss: “We use Simple K12 to support individual professional learning goals and to support educators with timely information on an as-needed basis.”
Question: What’s the biggest advantage of SimpleK12?
Moss: “The biggest advantage of SimpleK12 for Towns County Schools is the ability to have a catalog of on-demand professional learning topics that updates frequently.”
Question: Did you use federal, state, or district/local funding to pay for SimpleK12? If so, can you please describe what and what that process looked like? If not, would you mind sharing how your district paid for SimpleK12? (This information will help other districts in finding funding for teachers.)
Moss: “We are currently using state and local professional learning funds to support our funding of Simple K12.”
Questions: How would you describe the buying process?
Moss: “The buying process was fast and efficient.”
Question: Could you share some details about how you and/or your district implemented SimpleK12?
Moss: “As a district, we promote Simple K12 as a way to have individual choice for professional learning. We also use the platform to upload some district-specific content. When topics of interest come to my attention through emails I share these topics in my newsletters. We also use some of the content as discussion starters during our professional learning community meetings. Our professional learning motto is Try, Collaborate, Succeed. We feel that Simple K12 is a good resource to help us with this endeavor.”
Question: What have educators been saying about SimpleK12 since they started using it?
Moss: “Educators have shared that they like the SimpleK12 platform and appreciate that the webinars are around 30 minutes. This gives them the opportunity to learn something new without having to devote long hours to the task.”
Question: Could you share 1-3 anecdotes and quotes of particularly standout experiences using SimpleK12 with any of our team members?
Moss: “Mala Chakravorty has been a wonderful help to me during the time we have been using Simple K12. Mala is very quick to help me with any task I need assistance with such as uploading my own content or assigning courses. Having such personal customer service has been a wonderful experience for me as a busy administrator.”
Question: Prior to using SimpleK12, you were concerned about [x] and trying to solve [y]. Were you able to achieve what you set out to?
Moss: “Prior to using SimpleK12 it was not easy to provide professional learning to meet a variety of individualized professional learning goals. By having the on-demand webinars and the option to attend live webinars, our staff has increased availability to professional learning.”
Question: Looking back, how do you feel about your primary pain points now?
Moss: “We are pleased with the catalog of resources and feel that Simple K12 helps us address a variety of professional learning goals.”
Question: Could you share an anecdote that describes the shift you experienced?
Moss: “Looking at some of the courses that we have assigned, I am pleased to see that we have educators who have posted comments on the course page. It is good to see that our teachers are reflecting on what they have participated in.”
Question: Were you able to measure any improvements in skills, knowledge, productivity, or time savings by using SimpleK12?
Moss: “Simple K12 was able to provide a platform that was less expensive than our previous product. If we factor in the amount of travel and other costs that would have been required for educators to travel to a workshop and miss an entire school day one could conclude that overall SimpleK12 provides us with an economical solution for individualized professional learning.”
Question: How would you say SimpleK12 has impacted your success? Your team’s success? Your district's success?
Moss: “SimpleK12 has contributed to our overall mission for success by providing individuals with content that relates to what they are currently dealing with. Having the opportunity for our paraprofessionals to participate in professional learning has impacted their knowledge of ways to assist learners.”
Question: What is your advice to others who might be considering SimpleK12?
Moss: “I would advise anyone considering SimpleK12 to reach out to the company to try the product. Being able to look at what is available and the ease of navigation is very beneficial to prospective buyers.”
Question: Do you think the investment in SimpleK12 was worthwhile? Why?
Moss: “Simple K12 is a worthwhile investment for our district because the content continues to grow. I typically see timely topics advertised as “coming up next” when I log in to Simple K12. Knowing that the catalog is not complete is great.”
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