Parents know Anacapa School for its small class sizes; the school only enrolled 43 students from grades seven through twelve this year. School staff say that being a tight-knit community smoothed out the transition to remote learning.
School spokeswoman Kito Cetrulo said on March 16 the school moved class instruction out of the Downtown campus at 814 Santa Barbara St. and into the living rooms, bedrooms, kitchen tables and studies of its students.
“This remarkably smooth transition to remote learning would not have been possible without our highly energetic and innovative faculty. To be sure, there have been some kinks to iron out, but I’ve been happily surprised with how well things have gone. I also attribute the successful transition to our resilient students who have had an excellent attitude. In fact, some recently recruited three new students to our school since remote learning began a month ago,” Head of School Dr. Dylan Minor said in a statement released Sunday.
Ms. Cetrulo said the Anacapa School was one of the first schools to begin remote classes, because they had existing infrastructure on Google services like Google Hangouts and Google Classrooms.
“This is where being small is mighty. We’re not in elementary school, we’re a junior high school and a high school and so we didn’t think the packets would benefit the students enough. We thought that we really needed to provide an instructional approach that was real time, so what we talked about in the faculty is creating a mixed-media model where our classes would be exactly on the schedule that they’ve always been,” Ms. Cetrulo said.
She explained that online school days follow the usual class schedule, but teachers will have the class break out and do individual assignments instead of keeping them at their computer for the whole class period.
“I know for a lot of schools that technology is a huge barrier. They can’t get everybody online. In our model I know where every single student is every day, so if a student doesn’t show up or if their microphone is not working, I, as the assistant head of school, am texting teachers, they’re texting me, I’m texting moms saying, ’Hey, check on the kid’s microphone. We need to get this fixed,’” Ms. Cetrulo said.
“We’re so closely tethered with our families that I can tell you right now which kids are trying to use their phones and I don’t want them to use their phones. I want them to use a desktop, laptop or an iPad and I can tell you which kids are on Apple versus on Chromebooks because we know them well enough,” she said.
Ms. Cetrulo said administrators and staff are also providing the social experience for students.
She said the school sends out announcements every morning where they celebrate student birthdays and student achievements and news.
The school is hosting a talent show where students can post pictures or other visuals of themselves. Teachers host online chats about lab projects and most faculty members have cell phone numbers for students or their parents.
Ms. Cetrulo said the administration brought back electives so that students work hikes, art projects and other subjects that interest them in their home curriculum.
“We’re looking to innovate. This is something (online learning) that we haven’t done before.”
Anacapa School curriculum is modeled after leading university graduate programs. Ms. Cetrulo said the school has a level of trust in its students to adapt to completing a rigorous classwork load online.
Ms. Cetrulo said Anacapa School is accepting students. She said parents are in the process of determining what is in the best interest of their students ahead fall semester.