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LESSONS LEARNED: Whitehouse ISD assesses challenging year teaching through pandemic

5 months of school remain giving districts a chance to see what worked in the fall and what didn't as they continue to teach through social distance and quarantines.

WHITEHOUSE, Texas — So much has changed for children in 2020, but Whitehouse ISD Superintendent Dr. Christopher Moran says one thing that hasn't changed is their commitment to students.

"To be sure that our kids are receiving a good education and the White House community is, it's pretty incredible. It's a pretty special place. You know, our Board of Trustees, our Education Foundation, the community, as a at large has really stepped up and supported the district, even though it hasn't been a perfect thing for anybody. There's been tremendous support given to the district and the students to be sure that we at least have school this fall and make sure kids have opportunities."

In Whitehouse, their lessons learned to begin with remote learning.

"Well, I think certainly, we can do a better job of providing for our remote learners," Dr. Moran said. It's been a, it's been a pretty tough ask for teachers to do both remote and face-to-face. And as a district, I think it's become clear to us that we need to look for better ways to serve those remote learners. And at the semester, we're going to be evaluating, you know, how we can shift and serve those parents and kids in a more practical manner and effective manner." 

Dr. Moran says input from students and parents is incredibly valuable moving forward.

"It comes down to whether you're going to require a teacher, who has face-to-face students, also serving that remote student or we're going to dedicate staff to cover just those remote students. And it's a case by case basis, honestly, because we have about 104 students who are solely remote for medical reasons. There are those that are quarantined and coming and going. So it's not as clean as we'd like it, but we think we can do a better job of serving those parents and students," Moran said.

In fact, a one to one technology initiative was part of Whitehouse's strategic plan all along, but the coronavirus pandemic sped that process up. Still, Moran believes technology isn't the answer, but a tool for teachers to provide a better education. 

"You know, the things that we've learned is that, as a staff, we need to do a better job of supporting our teachers and giving them the resources they need because they have absolutely worked wonders this fall. And in many cases, you know, provided their own workarounds to ensure that their kids received what they feel like they should be receiving," Moran explained.

Moving forward Whitehouse ISD plans to give teachers additional resources that include more training, tools and software they may need.

"Because certainly, they want to serve those kids and are working tirelessly to make it good for their students," Moran said.

It's been a year of overcoming — overcoming quarantines, overcoming technology, overcoming all the adversity coronavirus created.

"There's no doubt about that, you know, anytime you have adversity, people get real creative," Moran said. "I think for any district, especially here in Whitehouse, we've learned that there's a lot more creativity going on as far as just ways to deliver instruction, and to provide the students opportunities as simple as, like our choir, competing and auditioning for all-region. Music was done online. And you know, you think about the logistics of travel for employees for training, certainly, the zoom trainings, even though it may not be the perfect scenario for all trainings I've made a lot fewer trips to Austin. That saved the district a lot of money. So there are some things that we can do as a district in the future, I think, to springboard off of some of the ideas and just the way that we've handled this, that we can, we can take advantage of in the future."

Moran is thankful for the support of the community and the opportunity to continue working together with parents and teachers to offer students the education they deserve.