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Rethinking Remote

How Lakota Schools Have Provided Unforgettable Digital Learning Experiences

As the start of the new school year approaches, teachers and administrators are hard at work to make sure students will have meaningful learning opportunities while keeping students, staff and families as safe as possible. As of press time the plan is for students to return to school with safety precautions, but online learning will be available for Lakota students through the Lakota Virtual Learning Option. Here are three truly unique opportunities that arose from digital learning this spring.

A New Acting Reality

Project 38, a program of Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, works with local schools to create an interpretation of Shakespeare’s plays. Kim Eldridge, who teaches theater at Lakota West, worked with her students in early 2020 to write a script and begin filming a reality show adaptation of King Richard II.

“When remote learning started, the students overcame the obstacles to continue filming,” says Kim. “They had Zoom calls, talked through the script, and came up with ideas together.”

Students recruited family members to help them film and handle props, and the students collaborated to make sure that conversations could appear to be in the same space even when filmed in two different homes.

“It was the students’ endurance that encouraged everyone to continue with the project,” says Kim. “They learned the necessity to adapt and realize that things happen in our lives that are out of our control, and you have to make the best of the situation.”

The final product, a 12-minute video, is available at and at the Project 38 Facebook page for viewing.

Number One Fan

Thomas Kiefer was a Reds fan when he met his intervention specialist, Katie Woodruff, at Woodland Elementary school. When he learned that she was a big hockey fan and loved the Blue Jackets, he began to follow them as well.

“Being a fan is a common thread they have together, and the bond they share has helped their experience,” says Angie Kiefer, Thomas’ mother. “I am so grateful to the team at Woodland; they are amazing on a regular basis, even before remote learning. They go that extra mile.”

Thomas has been working a lot on his writing, and during remote learning, he was writing about how to be a great leader. The idea of emailing Blue Jackets' Captain Nick Foligno came up, and Thomas was very excited.

Little did Thomas know, mutual connections had created a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: Nick himself joined a Zoom call with Thomas and chatted with him for a half-hour interview for his paper. They got to know each other informally, and everyone present could see a connection form. 

“He was so engaged,” explains Katie Woodruff. “I’ve seen the kids get starstruck around a celebrity, but it was like Thomas was talking to a friend of his.”

Thomas has been on a journey to find his voice and interests in elementary school, and the team at Woodland have accompanied him and seen him make strong progress.

“This experience meant so much to him this year,” says Katie. “He’s such a dynamic kid, and seeing him lighting up a room is really meaningful.”

Blasting Off From Home

Math teacher Aaron Nunley noticed some of his Plains Junior students were having trouble engaging with school from home during distance learning. Teachers Jessica Simpson, Laura Duncan, Marcie Fitzwater, Cayla Marshall and Aaron rallied to come up with ways to engage their team’s students with new opportunities.

Through a family connection to Language Arts teacher Becky Falato, the team was able to connect with Chief of the International Science Office of NASA’s Human Research Program John Charles, who studies the effects of space on human biology, and Brian Duffy, who was an astronaut pilot and mission commander. Brian also served as acting deputy director of the Johnson Space Center. They held Zoom calls with these leaders who are at the forefront of space science, and dozens of students came to the meetings to learn and ask questions.

“The timing was good because Space X was preparing to launch their first trip to the space station,” explains Aaron. “They talked about how collaborations let NASA invest their resources well and push the boundaries of what they're capable of."

The encouragement and excitement of the calls reenergized the teachers and students during a tough time.

“Distance learning forced us to think beyond what is normal or typical in a classroom, to think creatively,” says Aaron. “Career exploration is so important in junior high, and this helped the kids understand what math and science can do for them.”