When the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools to shutter and educators and students rapidly shifted to distance learning, those in Verizon Innovative Learning Schools program had the advantage of already knowing how to use devices and apps for learning. In fact, more than 70 percent of teachers in the program reported feeling prepared, with 93 percent crediting the program with making aspects of remote instruction easier to implement, according to a December 2020 survey.
Since 2014, the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools initiative has provided every student and teacher at select middle and high schools with a data plan to support learning in and out of the classroom. The program, which reached 264 schools in the 2020–2021 school year, also provides extensive professional development to teachers that supports powerful teaching and learning.
Argyle Middle School in Silver Spring, Maryland, joined the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools (VILS) initiative at the start of the 2019–2020 school year. In our new video below, educators share how being part of the program allowed them to adapt to evolving circumstances, which included beginning hybrid instruction in early April with approximately 35 percent of students returning to the school building.
“I think that data (plan) anywhere and everywhere—you can’t beat that. In the car, at the mall—(students) are able to connect,” said Argyle principal James Allrich. “The Verizon Innovative Learning Schools program has really been the difference for us, kind of the game changer as it relates to how our students are staying connected.”
When we last heard from Argyle, just weeks before the 2019–2020 school year ended, we learned that educators at the school felt like they were becoming a model for other schools in the district thanks to preparation from VILS.
“This school year has been about adaptability, flexibility, and creativity,” said Argyle’s Verizon Innovative Learning Schools coach Cortney Chao. “Our staff has done an amazing job connecting with students and families and making sure that they have what they need during our remote program.”
“(Hybrid learning) really seems pretty seamless so far, and we really have continuity of learning,” said Hannah Turner, the school’s multilingual learner content specialist. “I’m ready for next year, and I think the kids are really ready for it, so I’m excited to go back to the building and know that the work we put in this year is going to propel us forward.”
Watch the video below to see how Argyle adapted and excelled during remote and hybrid learning with support from VILS. Learn more about the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools initiative at verizon.digitalpromise.org.