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Earlier this year, the state of Louisiana awarded Class customer, Calcasieu Parish School Board, the Model of Excellence award for their innovative Virtual Instruction Program that “ensures students at every high school have access to challenging courses taught by highly qualified teachers.” This prestigious award is reserved for districts whose programs serve as exemplary models for others in Louisiana by “ensuring every child is on track for success after graduation, removing barriers to equity, and providing educators with what they need to be at their best.”

“Calcasieu Parish schools are blazing a trail to ensure students have access to great teachers and courses that would otherwise not be available at every high school. This program is a model that should be considered in other areas of Louisiana as well,” said State Superintendent Dr. Cade Brumley, who presented the award during an exciting ceremony ahead of the Mardi Gras-themed celebration.

To amplify the district’s impressive program and share their Class success story with others, we sat down with Calcasieu Parish to understand how the Virtual Instruction Program works and how it supports students and staff along the learning journey. Here’s a summary of those conversations.

What is the Virtual Instruction Program?

Calcasieu’s Virtual Instruction Program (VIP) provides students at all of their 11 participating high schools with access to high-quality courses such as STEM, Dual Enrollment, and Advanced Placement. Teachers certified in these hard-to-staff classes are housed in one location, where they use Class’s next generation virtual classroom to deliver synchronous virtual instruction to students in all participating Calcasieu Parish high schools.

The VIP teaching staff includes 14 highly certified teachers with unique teaching credentials. In addition to other subjects, it provides a certified math teacher to multiple schools that may struggle to secure enough high-quality math teachers amid the teacher shortage. The 30 VIP courses are also providing 500+ additional seats across the Parish, leading to better course access and smaller class sizes for other on-campus courses.

How does the VIP work?

After a rocky online learning experience during the pandemic and dealing with ongoing staff shortages, Calcasieu realized they needed to rethink the virtual classroom. “When you say ‘virtual’, people think the students are home. They think maybe the teachers are at home, but that’s not the case [at Calcasieu],” explains Dr. Doug DeVillier, the district’s Virtual Program Director. “The students are actually on their campus, but they’re not virtual all day long. And that’s really the game changer. They are face-to-face their entire day. But if they want to take a particular virtual class, which we offer through the virtual instruction program, they go into a special computer lab, and in that lab, they log in. Live time, live instruction. When they log in, their teacher logs in, and they are actually having a conversation with their teachers. And our teachers are located here with me in one school building.”

What are the biggest benefits of the VIP?

“The benefit for our students with live instruction through the virtual program is they still get the experience of having an instructor that they feel like they’re connected to,” shares Doug. “They feel like they’re connected to a real classroom, and we can offer more college credit courses to more students.”

“I was terrified to leave the classroom and figure out how I was going to [be a virtual teacher]. But we’ve done it, and we’ve used lots of different avenues to build relationships with students,” says VIP Math Teacher, Samantha Jacobson. “Class has definitely helped us build relationships with students in the sense that we still see the kids’ faces every day. We log on, and we talk to them every day. I can still read their facial expressions. I can still talk to them one on one.”

“Even though the students are across the district from each other, it’s been really fascinating to see them build relationships,” adds Hannah Hebert, another Calcasieu VIP Math Teacher. “We’ve had students say, ‘I’ve made friends with people that I might not have met otherwise at my school, but I have a lot in common with’. And because of a program like Class, they’re able to see each other and interact with each other and build those relationships. So that’s been really fascinating to see.”

Impressive results from Calcasieu’s Virtual Instruction Program

Beyond their recent Model of Excellence award, Calcasieu is seeing a quantifiable impact of their VIP on student and staff success:

  • 30 extra courses available via the virtual program
  • 14 highly certified teachers serving 11 high schools
  • 60 hours of free college credits to students in every participating high school
  • 500+ additional seats across the Parish

“The addition of the Virtual Instruction Program to the academic opportunities here in Calcasieu Parish is changing the dynamic to how we deliver and receive instruction,” said Superintendent Dr. Shannon LaFargue. “We are proud of the program, the students enrolled, and the faculty and staff pouring into this program daily. We’re already seeing an incredible impact on our students’ educational journeys, and we fully anticipate this program will continue to grow and further impact these students’ futures.”

A huge congratulations to Calcasieu Parish School Board! To learn more about how Calcasieu Parish uses Class to drive their Virtual Instruction Program and improve student and teacher connections, read their full customer story here!

Mike Lovell

Mike Lovell is the SVP of Marketing at Class. He has dedicated his career to technology and the applications that can innovate the way people live and learn.

Mike Lovell

Mike Lovell is the SVP of Marketing at Class. He has dedicated his career to technology and the applications that can innovate the way people live and learn.

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