lambert high school

The Lambert Hybrid Academy is on track to open in August as a pilot program at Lambert High School.

CUMMING—Nearly a year after education moved from the classroom to the kitchen under the COVID-19 shutdown, school officials are recognizing virtual learning is the new normal for many students.

The Lambert Hybrid Academy is on track to open in August as a pilot program at Lambert High School. It will offer the flexibility of a blended approach to in-person and virtual instruction with a focus on social connections.

“What we’re hearing from our community even amidst the pandemic is that online learning is a vital part of how they are going to access curriculum,” said Assistant Principal Ashley Johnessee.

During a meeting of the Forsyth School Board last week Lambert officials said the months spent in creating a pandemic-driven curriculum allowed them to see what worked and what did not.

“[The year] 2020 caused us to be really good at succeeding in being reactionary to something we did not cause,” said Lambert Principal Gary Davison.

He said many parents and students are asking schools to adjust the delivery of education to fit the revised landscape of learning. Nearly 60 percent of Lambert students said they see virtual courses as a continuing part of their high school education.

Davison said the assumption is school will return in August to its pre-pandemic delivery of the “straight eight” periods in person, and the option of all or some classes through Georgia Virtual School, Forsyth Virtual Academy or dual enrollment.

Next year students at Lambert will have a fourth option with the hybrid approach that links face to face and virtual learning within the Lambert Hybrid Academy.

“Overwhelmingly what we heard was [students] needed the social connection pieces,” Johnessee said. “They may be [academically] successful virtual or face to face, but what they really needed was something in between.”

A relationship and connection with teachers was cited as a critical piece of student success, she added.

The Lambert Hybrid Model proposes students are on campus in face-to-face instruction on Monday and Tuesday, participating in online learning Wednesday and Thursday in real time with their teachers, and Friday on campus for remedial instruction, enrichment or catching up on assignments.

Assistant principal Kelli Schuyler said the Lambert Hybrid Academy allows the student to personalize instruction that best meets their needs.

“What’s lovely about this model is the students get to make the choice of where they need the face to face and where they need a hybrid model,” Schuyler said.

She said a student who excels in math may not need as much direct instruction and support as a student who struggles in math and may benefit from being face to face in a classroom.

Forsyth County School Superintendent Jeff Bearden said Lambert Hybrid Academy is a proactive and creative approach to instruction based on lessons learned during the COVID disruption.

“We’ve learned a lot over the past months,” Bearden said. “Challenges create opportunities and from what we’ve learned we’ve created an opportunity to look at learning differently.”

Candy Waylock is an award winning education reporter who has covered all things education for Appen Media over the past 20 years. She is an Alpharetta resident.

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