We expect to be back on campus in September. Still, there will be some students from across the country and around the world who might not be able to join us. Pandemic hotspots, travel difficulties, quarantine, or underlying health conditions could keep them home. To remain flexible and responsive to emerging circumstances, we must continue modifying our teaching strategies and upgrading our technology. Thus, I am delighted to share some good news. The Rommel Wilson Memorial Fund has awarded $25,000 to Cyber Franklin to fortify our distance learning platform. Specifically, we are now able to enhance the “cyber-readiness” of sixteen classrooms on campus.

According to Tom Hays, “this money will provide much-needed updates for our on-campus and virtual programs. We can look forward to classroom projectors, large screen monitors, IR touchscreens for whiteboards, document cameras, enhanced microphone/sound systems, and discipline-specific software applications. The timing is perfect. Additional dollars are also in our 2020-21 operating budget to cover a new generation of laptop computers for our teachers.” Sara Giroux, a Learning Specialist with a Master’s Degree in Assistive Technology, said, “I think that this funding will open doors for us.”

Upgrades to Cyber Franklin will hopefully allow our educators to create a blended educational delivery model that we might label – “Room and Zoom.” Imagine a teacher instructing four or five students sitting at desks carefully spaced around the classroom. At the same time, one or two students participate from home. The Zoom application displays their faces on the large screen monitor mounted on a classroom wall. As a result, all participants can see and hear one another. Software and hardware eliminate physical barriers and revise our concept of the Franklin Academy classroom.

But, I am jumping ahead too quickly. The full realities of the next school year continue to unfold, and we are addressing many details. However, I am clear of this reality – we have creative and talented teachers and a supportive extended community. Working together, we can create opportunities out of this crisis. On behalf of colleagues and students at Franklin Academy, I want to thank the directors of the Rommel Wilson Memorial Fund for their financial support. These dollars will make a difference.