Some of the older students participating in the Launch program.  

A new program is being utilized this summer by some of Troy’s Ninth Grade Center students who are catching up or maybe trying to get ahead.

The program is called Launch.

“We’ve had an old system called A.L.S. where the kids came in and did their credit recovery,” said Andrew Elmendorf, the summer principal intern. “This new system is an online, virtual type training with tons of different classes.” Every student that is enrolled in the Launch program is rented a Google Chromebook personal computer.

This allows students to be wherever they want, whether that be at home, at school or maybe even on vacation with their family and still be able to complete their summer coursework.

But of course, there is the traditional 7:20 a.m. to 2:20 p.m. daily schedule where students can be in school and work on computers there.

There are teachers that interact with the students through the virtual Launch platform, a lot like what students might expect to see in college courses.

“Everything is done through modules, you email your instructor. It’s taking all that ownership on themselves,” Elmendorf said. And there are not only recovery classes but also enrichment classes that are allowing students to get ahead and maybe even earn college credits for a fraction of the cost. Earning the college credits is possible through Launch due to the program being run by Springfield Public Schools, which is accredited through Missouri State.

“The biggest question coming into it from most of our teachers was ‘We can’t get these kids motivated with us, how are they going to get motivated themselves?’” Elmendorf said.

Elmendorf stated that, even though it’s still early days with Launch, he has seen students that are motivated really take to the extra level of responsibility.

“The students that really want to get finished, take that ownership and maybe ownership they’ve never had,” Elmendorf said.

“The hardest part is getting the students that are here to make up credits and had no motivation when they were in the building motivated. Now, putting an electronic device in someone’s hands, sometimes that’s all it takes,” Elmendorf said. Teaching and educating is hard, especially nowadays when numbers are high and attention spans can tend to be a little low.

“We have so much diversity as far as teaching strategies and what students enjoy and technology and instructional strategies,” Elmendorf said. “I think by getting everyone a Chromebook helps because they can just sit there and work and there’s not an instructor that’s just lecturing, lecturing, lecturing.”

The summer Launch program is four weeks long, but Elmendorf said that he had some students work hard to complete it in two weeks, at which point Elmendorf and his staff would say, “Turn in your Chromebook, go home and have a good summer.”

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