Teachers prepare for a virtual school year


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – Thursday is the first day of classes for students in the Sioux Falls School District. For some, that classroom won’t be far from home. Hawthorne and Renberg are two schools that Virtual Academy teachers will be based out of for the 2020-2021 school year.

While many KELOLAND teachers are prepping their classrooms for the return of students, Pam Espeland and Jill Seiler are doing things a little differently.

“We don’t have to set up a physical space as far as desks and that kind of thing,” Espeland said.

“It’s really exciting for me. I like the computer. I was very successful with the online learning in the spring,” Seiler said.

In their 20 years of teaching elementary in classrooms, this will be their first time running things entirely through the Sioux Falls School District’s new Virtual Academy.

“We’ve been reaching out to our students and they’re all excited to be back,” Seiler said.

Seiler and Espeland will both be working out of Hawthorne Elementary School. Espeland will be teaching students ranging from 3rd to 5th grade. Seiler will be teaching 3rd and 4th graders.

“Our students will log onto a Calvert learning platform, and then we will help them through all of their academics through the four core subjects,” Seiler said.

Over the past few weeks, they’ve been meeting with families virtually through Google Meets to work through scheduling.

“Because we want their school day at home to be as normal as if it would be if they were in the building,” Seiler said.

Espeland says there are advantages to students working from home such as it creating a more relaxed environment.

“They have their parents right there with them walking them through. Then they have us supporting them and the parents through this process,” Espeland said.

They’re hoping that through the virtual academy, that they can open up more than just laptops but endless possibilities for a strong education.

“We’re all excited: we’re excited to get started, and work with our parents and support them through this process,” Espeland said.

“And they’re appreciating this opportunity to be their teacher too, and it’s just a win-win for everybody,” Seiler said.

To see more information on your kids going back to school, you can check out our back-to-school page.

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