Buffalo Creek, in Buffalo, New York, is a charter school for fifth and sixth graders that launched in 2020, right?
We are fifth and sixth. We will grow to fifth through 12th every year intermittently by one grade, a slow-growth model. We were incorporated in January 2020, and our first operational year started in August 2020.
And in the fall of 2020, you moved to a temporary site, where you were kicking off the launch of the school?
The temporary site is where we are right now. We’re still waiting on our final facility to be delivered for us, which will occur in April.
Our temporary site resulted from scarcity. The availability In Buffalo of facilities that can be equipped to become a school abiding by all the New York State code is very low. We initially thought we were going to find our facility, get our facility equipped in time to start our program in our semi-permanent home, only to learn that just was not a possibility here.
We had to quickly pivot to find a facility where we could at least start up our program. Knowing that we were only going to start with two grades made it a bit easier to find a smaller space. We had to quickly find a place that we could bring up to code, equipped well enough to run our program within budget restrictions so that we could do this and get into a triple net lease deal for a permanent facility.
Luckily, we found a developer that had a facility like the one we’re in right now, so that they could rent to us temporarily to run our program while they build out our new school. Partnering with this developer was remarkable. We were happy that we were able to quickly equip this place to run our program.
What is it that’s uniquely Buffalo Creek Academy as it represents your vision for the future of the school?
I came from working and operating private international schools overseas prior to returning to the United States to open Buffalo Creek Academy. You’ll find Buffalo Academy has a very international approach. That’s one part. It’s curriculum-based.
Buffalo Creek Academy is a public charter school, but we’re also a Cambridge International school. We are authorized by the University of Cambridge to carry out their global curriculum and the biggest thing about that curriculum that makes us really unique is a Global Perspectives curriculum.
Global Perspectives is more than just a course. It’s a thought pattern and an approach to thinking where we are able to develop within our students’ strong critical thinking skills, the ability to discern between value judgments, opinions, and facts.
Students can interrogate data. They can compose essays and conduct projects that, in some cases, have nothing to do with their local community. It could be an incident that occurred anywhere in the world.
They can look at it and see, okay, how would that impact me from a personal perspective if I were in that country. And then how I would look at that impact from a national perspective if I were in that country. How would I look at it from a global perspective? How would that impact the world? And that course of thinking, in Global Perspectives, impacts how we teach social studies, ELA, even math and science, at times.
The other difference is, while we are a public charter school, we’re also a nonprofit because we’re in New York State, and we flex those nonprofit muscles as much as possible in order to maintain as much normalcy as possible for our students.
What has COVID done to that normalcy and the execution of that mission?
When we found out that the COVID crisis was occurring, right when we were trying to launch, we had to adjust our model. But the mantra we went into this with is that, more often than not, the children that come to us, 10, 11, 12-year-olds, find themselves in situations that are the result of adult decisions, not their decisions.
If they could make the decision, they probably would choose normalcy, right? They would want more agency over their day and their life of going to school, studying as best they can, having social interactions with their friends, having a full belly, not worried about the basic necessities in life.
But they don’t make those decisions. So, what we try to do is give them agency as much as we can and provide them the opportunity to make decisions to impact the demands in their lives. That’s exactly where a lot of our decisions come from.
Was technology a need or a hurdle for the school because of going remote, or was it already there and intrinsic to the mission you outlined?
Technology is at the forefront of how we were going to operate, even if COVID didn’t occur.
I’m a trained instructional technologist. I came from working in corporate America as an instructional technologist before moving into formal education, working in schools. Usually, I’m trying to impress on adults to use technology to the best of their ability inside the classrooms to enhance the educational experience, a mission that has been a part of my life for a long time. Now, I don’t have to ask; I don’t have to request adults to use it. They have to. It’s a part of how we operate.
First, it was going to be the core of how we operate anyway. That’s just because of my background and just the nature of my role in the organization as the founder. But the second part is Cambridge; we’re a Cambridge International School. There are two courses we use with Cambridge. One is Global Perspectives and the second one is ICT, which is Information and Communication Technology.
It’s a course that allows children to understand how to use a computer for academic purposes, and they start at a very early age. They have one course called ICT Starters, where they learn how to use computers. It’s not just word processing. It could be word processing, coding, web development, even graphic designing, but they’re really becoming comfortable using their computer.
If you go into a public school today and put a keyboard in front of the child, even right now as they’re operating virtually, you can see by how they place their fingers that they’ve never learned how to actually type. This is a lost skill.
Funny enough, we had fewer computers in school when I was in school, but most of us left school with typing skills. You have more computers and more accessibility to technology than ever before, but many children lack the skills to use the computer for academic purposes.
They can play games, they can use Facebook, but can they compose an essay? Can they spell check their essay? Can they ensure that the indenting is correct? Can they use it for research and know how to appropriately find a citation when they’re using references? These are things that ICT provides. It’s the floor, not the ceiling. ICT was a curriculum we had and were saying we were going to use when we proposed our charter, Global Perspectives, and ICT, along with everything New York State requires. So, we already had to have the technology. And then when COVID happened and we were still going to launch, we knew that we had to use technology.
We did a very unique thing with the technology brought in. We asked a whole lot from CTS in order to pull this off because, unlike most schools in New York State, we are the only freestanding charter school that opened in 2020. We had no roadmap. We had to do it based on our best judgment, and technology was a big determinant.
It clearly worked. It’s a combination challenge—a hurdle but also something that you want to take on with verve. This is where you get to shine.
I also have a graduate degree in instructional technology, so I know of what you speak when it comes to thinking like this, but I know where to put my hands on a keyboard because I took typing classes. I failed typing; I got an F, but I still knew how to use a keyboard and never touched the typewriter again. I started using computers. These days, I notice kids and wonder, “Man, how are you going to get through college if you have to hunt-and-peck?” That’s going to take forever to write an essay. It hadn’t dawned on me before then that it’s an instructional challenge.
You have a new facility, you’ve selected a temporary site, and CTS sets up the network equipment, the phone system. It helps you acquire and coordinate the Chromebooks and laptops for students and staff for remote learning, and CTS also provides network and general support on all these networked devices. This all sounds very straightforward. Was it that simple or were there, aside from COVID, specific hurdles that made it less than a straight shot?
The first hurdle was that we didn’t have an abundance of time. We discovered the need for a temporary facility very late in the game because we didn’t know that permanent facilities weren’t available. Once we realized we needed a temporary facility, the first five options fell through, some at the very last minute.
Once we learned where we were going to move, which was around May, we didn’t get access to the facility to move in until June. We had to move very quickly with CTS. CTS had to both work remotely and bring their people on-site to set up our facility quickly for us to start our program. On top of that, my challenge to the team was if we’re going to do this, we’re going to do it the absolute best way possible.
You have an initiative called Teaching Studios, for instance.
Yes, I was looking at examples of people who had figured out how to really engage their audience using technology. Of course, the first place I stopped was YouTube. I said, “These influencers have figured it out.” If you go to your influencer’s apartment, or studio or home, they have a little nook in their house where they have the right lighting, right audiovisual. They know the devices to purchase. They know what they have to do in order to reach their audience with good audiovisual.
Even before them, I can remember some good examples—the Reading Rainbow or the best example I can always think of is Bill Nye the Science Guy. Someone who was able to engage me as a young learner, and keep me on the edge of my seat, even though he was on the screen. My challenge to the team was if Bill Nye could do it back in the nineties, why can’t we do it now? And we’d better do it just as well as YouTube influencers.
I called CTS and said, “We’re building studios in our classroom. We’re not having a traditional classroom. We’re going to flip it into a studio. We’re going to need the lamps, the LCD lighting, the high-quality microphone and camera, a large screen so that the teachers can project the students on the screen, and not the same screen as their Surface Pro, so they can see what they’re teaching while they can see who they’re speaking to.”
I calibrated their minds to my mind’s eye, and we got the equipment here I put together, and we hit the city by storm. All the news channels were here. The first day of school was like, “What? I want to see this studio. What are you guys talking about?” It was phenomenal, and I told the teachers, “You’re going to stand in front of your classroom, look at your students, be ready for your instruction and teach.”
If you go to the studio, you will see a set up of teachers standing in front of the classroom, in front of their whiteboard, teaching. And we equipped the students, so if they were still in the class, we brought the school to them. We purchased two vans. We brought the chairs, desks, laptops, WiFi hotspots, all of the material, including privacy backdrops connected to their chair to their home along with meals and a uniform shirt.
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I told their parents that once your child puts on their shirt and eats breakfast, they sit at that desk; they’re in school just as if they’re in class. Teachers treat them as if they’re in class with them. And it worked. Our engagement and attendance are amazing. Even on assessment days, attendance is amazing because students know the moment they sit down in that chair, at that desk, they’re in class. The technology is there, so they’re looking at and hearing their teacher, and the teacher is looking at them.
What we purchased with CTS’s help is mobile equipment. So, when our region was designated ‘orange’, we bought these large black tubs and said, “Pack this full of your equipment as carefully as you can. Take it home and set up your studio at home, at the same standard. The quality must be maintained. You must be standing up looking into the camera and teaching your students.” We bought portable whiteboards to sit behind them. And they’re at home right now doing the same exact thing. So, whatever barriers arose, we overcame them, and we maintained quality. It was a combination of maximizing their use of technology and flexibility.
How were they able to get this done quickly to meet your primary need more efficiently than others?
CTS was very flexible. Listening was the key. We went over it with a team, and they asked, “What do you want to do?” Since they were not familiar with the approach and the teaching studio was not something that they’d done before, I said, “I’m going to describe to you what I think we need inside the studio. Let’s talk about it.” They found what we were talking about, and then asked, “Do you think this is it?” I said, “Yes.” We ordered it. It showed up; we set it up. It worked. They moved very quickly, but they listened.
They started with open-ended questions. “What do you need? What are you trying to do?” And when I described it, they were able to use their expertise to pinpoint what equipment I would need in order to carry it out, even when we had to do another logistics setup because we had to coach teachers on how to do it correctly. So, we bought AirPods that teachers could put in their ears while they’re teaching–a page we took out of the book of news reporters.
I’m a fan of Peter Drucker, who talks about taking things from other fields and making it work in a different industry. I’m paraphrasing him, but news reporters can listen to something in their ear and then report, and you won’t know they’re listening to someone. We know because we can see the microphones. Same here. We bought AirPods for our teachers to get them used to standing in front of the camera instructing students. We don’t have to wait till the end of the class to correct the teachers. We can correct them right there, so they can immediately correct themselves to enhance their instruction.
We have a portable screen in my office with a projector, where I can see the classroom and the teacher. The teacher can hear me, but not the students, so I can coach the teacher in the middle of the classroom. That took it to a wholly different level of maintaining quality. I discovered the need to coach teachers, with the principals with me, to understand how to coach them; I needed equipment, so, asked CTS for portable projection screens and a projector I can set on the table, so I can project it.” They got it. We ordered it, it came in, we set it up, and it worked, and all within budgetary constraints. I didn’t order anything wild. It was really simple material, but using it in a very nimble way.
Given your background in technology and working with people in the technology field, is it rare in your experience to get a project like this done on time and within budget?
It’s rare and most vendors that I’ve dealt with are leading schools to their preferred line of products. “Oh, you want this, but we have this, this, this, this, and this.” And that was not the case with CTS. It was literally, “What do you need? Okay. What are you trying to do? Here’s what you need.” I got what I needed, nothing more. Everything we ordered we’re putting to use right now. There were no markups; there were no sell ups. So, I didn’t feel like I was actually talking to a supplier. It was a partner.
It felt like an extension of my school. I’d tell them what I needed, and CTS would say, “Okay, great. What do you need? All right. You might need this.” I’d approve and they’d follow up, “We sent it, we set it up. How’s it working?” And I’d tell them it’s working well. If I have problems, I call them. We troubleshoot. I think that was the key, their listening, being flexible, and providing what I needed, not what would make them the most money.
You’re in Buffalo and CTS is in New York City, was that a problem?
It was a non-issue. We’re eight hours away and that’s only relatively far.
Many schools across our country struggled to get their Chromebooks in time to start their program. We knew how many we needed. We told CTS early, and they had them early in New York waiting for us to get our Google education accounts so that we could program them and send them.
Turns out, Buffalo Creek already had our Google account well before we got our charter. We started with Google for business but had to downgrade to Google basic in order to upgrade to Google for education. At that time, we didn’t have our licenses to program our Chromebooks. So, we had to come up with a plan to make sure students could at least access Google Classroom and have security on their computers. Once we could get Google for Education, we’d bring them back in and program them for licenses.
Everything sounds smooth, but getting 71 computers that should have been 112 computers, from New York City to Buffalo was a lot. We only had 56 students enrolled at the time. We had to get at least half of them programmed and out. So, we had vans distribute them to their houses. We wanted to get our program started and then once we got our Google for Education, we’d get all those back and make sure to have licensed computers. It went really smoothly because of the coordination within the CTS operation, and they’re an email or a phone call away.
You said that the Chromebooks were already there. That means that the company thought proactively and didn’t wait to order, especially in a time of a significant supply chain shortage.
We had to ensure our families knew we actually had the Chromebooks in our possession because our partner, CTS, had them. I asked CTS, “Take a photo of those Chromebooks and send it to me. I need to make sure that I can give our parents a chance to show them that we have Chromebooks.”
On our Instagram are photos of our Chromebooks sitting in boxes. That was because many schools weren’t going to have their Chromebooks in time because of coronavirus. We had them and were able to start school on time, and kids were able to log in to use their Chromebooks for orientation.
It’s not as though our kids were transitioning online with our program. They started our school entirely remotely because we started in the midst of the COVID pandemic. So, we had to do everything. Parents and students weren’t going to give us the benefit of the doubt, “Oh, I know they’re busy or I know they have our best interests in mind.” This is their first impression of us and we could not mess this up. We had to roll it out as close to perfect as possible.
On that issue of the parents, you mentioned student engagement has been high partly because of how you’ve implemented technology. Some of that may also have to do with your approach to education. But what about parents and teacher response?
In order to make sure we have a strong partnership with parents, we have to meet their needs. They come to a school because they want their child educated, but it’s more than that. A school is more than just an institution to increase your proficiency in ELA, in math. It’s a social experience. We spend a great deal of time with their child, but they have to trust that we’re going to inculcate those values we promised when we first approached them.
So, when parents first met us, we were meeting their needs during food drives and PPE giveaways during the summer. They met us in the middle because we were there to meet their needs first. We were in a financial crisis and in a pandemic community, where parents were laid off and furloughed.
Parents know we’re constantly operating as a partner. We’re more than just a school.
We have a full-time social worker. Our facility is going to be two buildings. The second facility is a family support center all about helping families because that impacts the child. For example, we see families every week, even though their child’s attending remotely. Every week our vans go out and deliver lunch and breakfast to the kids.
We don’t tell the parents, “Hey, we were upgrading technology. Here is our window of time. Make sure you make the most of this time.” No, if some child has a problem troubleshooting technology, they call CTS, but if it can’t be fixed, we go out to their house and fix it. We have two vans for that purpose, the same vans carrying the breakfast and lunch sets that the district provides.
Most schools say, “Here’s your window to pick up lunches.” No, we go out. We have a route planning software and a whole operations logistics monster setup for that. And they know that we’re going to show up. It’s a contactless delivery. A knock on the door and lunch and breakfast is there for the entire week. They see us every single week.
So, if it’s something as small as, “Hey my battery, my Chromebook Isn’t working,” or as big as, “Hey, my WiFi hotspot is broken or my desk is broken, my Chromebook is broken, or I ripped all my uniform shirts,” we’re right there.
Because of the pandemic, families have become more transient from apartment to apartment or from family member to family member. No matter what, we say, “Okay, you have a new address. Where are you? Great, we’re going to bring all the material there.” We’re going to go get that desk and chair and everything, and we’re going to take it to the new address. If you move again, let us know. “Are your daughter’s at a Boys and Girls club now? We’ll take everything to the Boys and Girls club.”
Our social worker is always calling the director. We’re going to make sure she has everything she needs. Parents respond really well to us because we respond really well to them. We don’t respond with judgment. We don’t come to the table with any prejudice.
It’s tough being a parent right now in the pandemic. I have a third-grade son. You’re balancing and trying to parent in this very weird environment, and some parents are doing exactly what I just said. On top of that, they’re dealing with poverty. We are there to support them, they know that, and they respond well to us.
The only thing I ask is that at 8:00 or 8:30, their child is sitting in that chair with a uniform shirt on, they’ve already had their breakfast and are ready for school. We’ll take it from there. We have not promoted them to teaching assistant. We’ve got this. We will take care of it. All I’m asking parents is to make sure their kids are there in class. We’ll take it from there. And if ever there’s an issue, we contact them.
For teachers, it’s always training. If they’re trained and we model for them how to teach effectively, which we did, they respond really well to it. We’re very responsive to them.
Teachers have so many different levers and buttons to push for support. Inside our school, we rotate around our teachers. They are our operators. If we were a hospital, they’re doctors. We rely on them to carry out our mission. Everyone revolves around teachers, and they know that. Because they’re the ones carrying out the most critical part of our mission and they know that, we get the most out of them. They know we’re going to support them and be there if they have any issues.
So they’ve been happy because the technology isn’t just dropped onto their desk. It’s technology plus training and support.
The first person that conducted a lesson with an AirPod in my ear, in front of the camera, was me, and I had someone else in my ear. I was showing them how we do it. And then I had the assistant principal and the principal in my office watching me, and then they did it. It was modeling first. Then they did it with us.
We don’t take an ivory tower approach with our teachers. It’s not that I’m just watching them and giving my value judgments. No, it’s we’re doing it. I am in that class with you. At the end of the class, we review it and say, “We did this. We could have called on more kids or we could have brought this topic up a little bit earlier in order to engage them a bit better.”
A “we” conversation is less judgmental, so teachers are generally more receptive. It’s teamwork. I know this sounds like utopian hyperbole, but it’s not. We’re in the classes together. Teachers are under a microscope, and it’s a very thankless profession. The term accountability has become a scary word in education. Because people come from every angle after teachers, and we’re asking them to do something now that they never had to do before.
You used to have to tell the teacher, “Hey, when you teach the students and you talk about sensitive topics, talk about sensitive issues as though their parents are sitting next to them.” You say this to make sure the teacher approaches it with sensitivity and that they’re careful about what they say.
You don’t have to say that now. They’re literally teaching the students sitting next to their grandma, grandpa, mom or dad in their living room. And they’re being broadcast throughout the entire house when they speak.
This was a tumultuous year to do that. They’re teaching the civil rights movement in social studies because they’re studying reconstruction in fifth grade, and the Black Lives Matter movement booms in America. We can’t ignore that because civic engagement is a big part of our curriculum. So, how do you explain that to children without isolating anybody? Because we have a diverse student body, and we have a diverse staff. How do you do that? It was an awesome opportunity for our teachers to be able to do that with the kids in there next to their mom. When we have what just occurred in Washington, DC, that was a challenge too.
I remember rallying the teachers, saying, “You’re going to start it with open-ended questions to students. Don’t open it with your own opinions and value judgments. Open it up by asking them what they know, what they see, what they heard, and then start the conversation.” And it was amazing. I think support and being there with teachers is key.
It’s obviously working—it’s a stable platform, but that doesn’t mean you’re done. What’s the new reality now that enables you to keep building, and what is next at Buffalo?
The new reality is that education will never be the same. My hope is that we do not go through this strong regression back to the old system. I do not want to see, at least in our school, the pre-2020 approach to schooling ever exist again.
Technology has shown up, it’s been proven to be effective, and many people who were afraid of using technology were forced into it in the first place. That’s the new reality we’re operating in. It’s no longer, are we going to use instructional technology, so much as to what degree are we going to employ these tools. That’s the conversation that’s around the country now, and I couldn’t be more grateful.
In our school model, we use a temporary facility to design our program. Now, we’re taking it up a notch in our new facility. We’ve designed it with what I call concept classrooms.
Elon Musk and everyone has concept cars; we have a concept classroom. That classroom is built so that my students are sitting in front of me, socially distant with their sneeze guards, and we have the extra air circulation and everything in the classroom post-COVID, making sure they’re safe, but also, intermittently, some students have to be at home because of quarantine or vaccination cycles, whatever we’re into next fall. The teacher can still conduct the classroom.
What does the hybrid class truly look like? We don’t want any interruption if three kids have to be at home for two weeks or if the teacher happens to have to be isolated for a couple of weeks.
We don’t want anything to have to change the cycle of school. Kids are still coming to school, still sitting in their classroom. The teachers are either standing in front of them or are on the screen in front of them, but they’re still going to go through the lessons, and it’s not going to skip a beat.
Mr. or Ms. Brown is either in front of the classroom doing instruction or in the student’s computer doing instruction. Students are at their desks, still working, being held accountable, doing assignments, being engaged, answering questions, and turning in assignments. The new concept is how do you create a school like that independent of the old normal. We’re living in this new normal, and we actually design a school behind it. That’s what we’ve done in our new campus.
To summarize: you’re reframing the debate about the effectiveness of remote schooling versus in-person schooling and saying there are two outcomes. One is that we need a robust, resilient hybrid learning model that is fairly immune to disruption by having some students in the classroom and some out. Continuity is something that you’ve learned how to maintain, and you think building that into the model is essential. That’s impressive because we don’t know that this is the last pandemic or what other disruptions might come our way. Making education extremely resilient sounds like a novel task.
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With your background in instructional technology and as an educational technologist, you’re gratified that this brings educational technology to the forefront and says, “How can we best exploit these tools to get the maximum outcome for students?” You not only believe that’s probably not going away, but you really hope it doesn’t, and you don’t intend to let it go away at Buffalo Creek Academy, either.
That’s spot on. That’s exactly the case. And that’s my hope, at least at Buffalo Creek. We’re going to keep it at the forefront and, yes, we’ve experienced failures, but we’ve achieved so many successes. I mean, we have something to complain about. That’s because of technology. If it weren’t for technology, we wouldn’t even have complaints about the school program because there would be no school program. It would go back to the Bedknobs and Broomsticks version of correspondence schools. That’s not the case. It’s not a mail-order school experience right now—because of technology.
I believe the operative question is to what degree are we going to ensure that this is maintained even when we go back, and how much are we going to acknowledge the new normal instead of trying to regress back to the old normal. I don’t want that full regression to happen.
You’re saying technology can be a scapegoat. We can complain about it, but it’s a high-class problem to have. Technology enables the school to exist, to function, deliver effective education, so let’s keep taking advantage of it.
Yes. I spent a great deal of my adult life living in the “developing” world. The first school I opened was in Bangladesh. I operated a great deal of my adult life in the post-Soviet Union. Yes, we have a lot of complaints about systems and reform, but we have systems to reform. Not every country can say that.
In some of the places that I operated in as an educator, school leader, and school founder, I guarantee the situation was very different. They weren’t complaining that the Chromebook went out for 45 minutes intermittently or their WiFi hotspot at home wasn’t working. In many cases, because of the country we’re in and the resources available to our country, it’s not perfect, but it’s a world different from other parts. That gave me a lot to be grateful for.
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Will CTS play an ongoing role in some of the ambitious projects and implementations you want to have, such as concept classrooms and other things that you may be cooking up that you haven’t told us about, going forward?
It’s definitely ongoing. For example, we have a provider for our back-office finance. They do all of the accounts payable, along with my business manager and our HR. We have an attorney that provides legal services to our board. We think of CTS along those lines.
We’re not going to ever get to the point where we don’t need an attorney. We have to have an attorney. We’re not going to ever get to the point where we don’t require assistance from our back-office accounting until we can afford to have accounting in house. We’re never going to get to the point where we don’t require our partner in providing technology. Since we’re about to transition into our new facility, build concept classes, and ensure that our school is truly hybrid, we’re going to need CTS right there with us.
CTS has been really involved with the architects and designers. They’ve been on site ensuring that everything is set up for our security and our IT systems. I don’t see a situation where we’re not going to have an IT partner that operates in that manner.
CTS is going to be our partner with the concept classes and ensuring that our new campus is completely hybrid, as well as other projects.
Because we are an international school, we have big goals. As I said, there are other parts of the world that require help with education and conducting education, and technology has proven that I can be in America and I can teach a class to students sitting in Dhaka, Bangladesh, as long as I wake up on time.
There is no limit now, and I’m hoping that there’s no stigma any more about setting up and positioning online learning at work. That provides even more opportunities for us to reach underserved children all over the world.
There are programs that we are working on as a team to carry that out. CTS will be an important partner. That’s huge and that’s actually happening right now. I won’t say too much on it, but that’s actually happening right now.
That visionary approach, Dr. Manning, to Buffalo Creek Academy, to schooling in general, to charter schooling in particular, to schooling integrated with technology, and to the future of a hybrid learning model or a technically supported teaching method are likely to pay off and take your students farther than the average student. That’s something to be really proud of.
Well, thank you. I’ve enjoyed this conversation.
For more about Buffalo Creek Academy and CTS’s role as their technology partner, read the CTS/Buffalo Creek case study here.
“If [students] could make the decision, they probably would choose normalcy, right? They would want more agency over their day and their life of going to school, studying as best they can, having social interactions with their friends, having a full belly, not worried about the basic necessities in life. But they don’t make those decisions. So, what we try to do is give them agency as much as we can and provide them the opportunity to make decisions to impact the demands in their lives.”