Refugio (KIII News) — In the small town of Refugio, Texas, where evidence of Hurricane Harvey still remains, a lack of teachers has left a high school to rely on technology.
During the 2017-18 school year, Refugio High School was in dire need of a Spanish teacher after their's retired. Principal Brandon Duncan searched for the right candidate but could not fill the position; so he had to get creative. Duncan reached out to Proximity Learning, an online classroom program.
"It's just the age we live in," Duncan said. "It's very accustomed to computers. To technology."
During that school year, with the help of Proximity Learning, Duncan saw a 100-percent passing rate for Refugio High School's Spanish classes.
The teacher shortage continued this year. Duncan said he lacked enough history and chemistry teachers, and leaving those positions open was not an option; so once again he reached out to Proximity Learning.
"We're able to keep those kids on track to get what they need so they don't have to double up as a senior with two histories or something like that," Duncan added.
Students enrolled in Proximity Learning classes log on to laptops and are greeted by their online teacher. Meanwhile, another teacher phsyically monitors the classroom. From there, everything is the same as having a real teacher.
Freshmen Brenna Sims and Presley Barber said they were skeptical at first.
"I was really nervous because I'm more of like, whenever people show me stuff I learn better, but I'm actually doing a lot better," Sims said.
"I was very nervous and scared because I'm used to having a real teacher instead of being on live," Barber added.
Yet the two girls were pleasantly surprised. They said it's nice having an alternate classroom and their grades are doing much better than they expected.
"She still answers our emails and we can do our work and she helps us a lot," Sims said.
Principal Duncan is pleased with the success of the program. For the following years, he plans on keeping Proximity Learning for Spanish classes. After this school year, he hopes to find teachers for the chemistry and history classes.
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