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STEPHANIE MARKERT EXCITED FOR LAUNCH OF ONLINE SCHOOL

Growing up in an impoverished Nebraska household, a college education seemed like an out-of-grasp dream for Stephanie Markert. Principal Stephanie Markert

But she knew that if she found a way to make that dream unfold, education would be the path of study she would happily traverse.

So with a love for children in her heart, and a fierce determination in her soul, Mrs. Markert went on to earn not only an undergraduate degree but a Master’s, enjoying a classroom teaching career before moving into administration, including stints as an Assistant Principal at two District 60 middle schools.

Now, as Principal Markert, she will oversee a new and exciting venture: District 60 Online School.

Slated to open in the fall with the commencement of the 2021-22 school year, District 60 Online School will provide families with yet another educational opportunity built on the remote learning innovations implemented during the pandemic.

With full support from Principal Markert and a staff of licensed educators, District 60 Online School will allow students to learn from the comfort of their homes through Edgenuity: a state-of-the-art curriculum specifically designed for the online learning format that’s aligned with state and national standards.

Delivery of the curriculum is compatible with District technology (Chromebook, Google, Infinite Campus, etc.), which will be provided to students, along with WiFi capability as needed.

While serving during the past school year at Pueblo Academy of the Arts as an Assistant Principal and Athletic Director, Principal Markert ascertained what worked well within the remote learning format and what didn’t. 

The experience proved to be vital as she embarks on the next leg of her administrative journey.

“At PAA, it was almost a school within a school,” she said. “And there was a lot of work I had done with the online part of that school. So when the Principal position for the new online school came open, I wanted to be part of the team that figures out how to make this work the best for kids.”

One lesson gauged from the pandemic is that a number of children not only enjoyed learning remotely but thrived.

Principal Markert said District 60 Online School has been designed with those learners in mind.

“It’s the wave of education now,” she said. “A lot of kids do really well in an independent type of environment, as well as meeting with their teachers on the screen each week as well. The kids who feel they were incredibly successful this past year and felt really good about learning online, are really going to love our program. 

“In a traditional classroom, you’re one of 30, let’s say. And you can sit there for the whole hour and get it or not get it. Online, you’re in charge of how fast you go through the day’s concept. If you’re struggling, you can go back and re-watch the video. The curriculum we’ve purchased has a lot of interactive and engaging pieces: videos of teachers teaching you; guided notes; auto-graded pieces; opportunities to retake quizzes if you’re not getting it; and live support from a teacher, if you are still struggling.”

For those students who struggle in a traditional school classroom, and feel that the needed support is lacking, “they can do really, really well online, because the opportunity is there for that additional support,” Principal Markert added.

Dutch Clark Digital will continue to provide online instruction to high school students.

Students who enroll in District 60 Online School must commit for at least a year. Principal Markert, however, believes the opportunity will be embraced by many families for a much longer period of time.

“It’s not just next year,” she said. “So if kids love online learning, they can be with us for a long time. I want people to understand that we will be here beyond next year. The parents who have enrolled students in the school are very excited about the opportunity. They’re excited about the changes we are making from the past year of online learning.

“This new online platform will eliminate a lot of those issues, such as not knowing that kids were struggling until grades came out. There are a lot of auto-graded pieces, so students know how they’re doing as they move along. Overall, it eliminates a lot of challenges families felt came up this year.” 

Principal Markert and staff will work from a central location, which would be accessible for families dealing with technological and related issues. Students and families also will have access to Sarah Rounsborg, who serves as the district's Distance Learning Technician and can assist with technology and connectivity issues.

“I’m excited about this: not for myself, but for the Pueblo community and its students, because this is an opportunity to learn in a totally different way, and in a way that a lot of students thrive,” Principal Markert said.

To enjoy the full spectrum of the middle and high school experience, students will be given the opportunity to participate in clubs and extra-curricular activities through their neighborhood school.

“Parents who have already committed are very excited about that,” Principal Markert said.

Enrollment for the D60 Online School is now open through June 30 and may be completed electronically at www.PuebloD60.org.

Those with questions are encouraged to call Principal Markert at 225-5097, or Krystal Rasmussen, Director of Curriculum and Instructional Programming, at 470-5176.