Seymour schools offering full-time online education


Seymour Community School Corp. is offering a full-time online education option this year.

Kathy Beavers is the lead teacher for Seymour’s OWL Tech program, which will be based in part at the administration building at 1638 S. Walnut Street.

“We’re going to fill about five of those offices that were vacated to the new administration office,” Beavers said.

Shawn Mahoney is the administration person for that building and this program.

“I’m the first person to contact, and my role is to ensure that things run smoothly for my teachers so that their jobs run smoothly with the students,” Beavers said.

Beavers has taught at Seymour Middle School for about 28 years but has now transferred over for the new venture with OWL Tech.

“I’m the contact person for everyone, but my primary focus is over grades kindergarten through eighth grade,” she said.

“Kaitlyn Ude is the counselor over the program but will be housed at Seymour High School.”

Beavers said OWL Tech will be different from last year’s hybrid online learning, which students experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The program was created for the population that traditional school didn’t fit,” she said. “I think the only blessing that came out of COVID and the situation with the hybrid was we found that there are some people who thrive in that digital environment.”

She said that might have been because of bullying or anxiety or just because that’s their learning style.

“We found there’s a good group of people in our community that need a program like this, and we are wanting to offer that,” Beavers said.

She said this program has come about from hearing and knowing for a long time that they have needed some sort of an alternative.

“I want to use that term ‘alternative’ loosely because I don’t want it to be seen as a negative, like it’s an alternative school, because it’s not,” Beavers said.

It’s a program within the corporation that’s designed to meet the needs of everyone.

“We may have kids that for whatever reason, their immune system is weak, and by coming to school, they open themselves up to some pretty severe situations,” she said. “We provide them an opportunity to get a quality education with teachers who are there to support them.”

That’s the main difference between this program and the hybrid schedule parents saw last year.

“The difference really lies in that before, the teacher’s attention was divided,” Beavers said. “There were the kids in the classroom and the kids at home, and somebody always lost out.”

She said all of the teachers wrestled with that and felt bad about it.

“But in this environment, there are the teachers who are in the brick-and-mortar classrooms and their focus is where it should be, on those students,” she said. “Our focus is on our students and their learning.”

Google/Google Classroom will be used for the program with the Edgenuity curriculum to be used for content delivery, and each participating student will be provided with a Chromebook.

The Gradual Release Model will be used at OWL Tech, which is a best practice instructional model where teachers gradually transfer the responsibility in the learning process from the teacher to the students.

“So we’re first going to introduce information and new concepts, and our teachers are coming in as a support network under me,” Beavers said.

All are veteran teachers and experts in their own area and already have a sense of when they know when a certain concept is going to be a difficult task for the kids, then they will front load some information to get them prepared.

“Then when they get it, our job will be to make sure they get the practice they need,” Beavers said. “It’s very much an engaging kind of program is what we’re trying to do.”

With last year’s hybrid experience due to COVID, the kids could turn off their cameras, sit in the back and not participate and really still be lost, even in that virtual environment, she said.

“This program doesn’t allow for that, so we are meeting with them every school day multiple times a day, and we’re having data conferences at the end of the week,” Beavers said. “We say for students to be on track, they should be above or at what we call the black line.”

If a student’s data falls below that black line, then interventions are put in place to find out why.

“Maybe he or she doesn’t have organization skills or maybe they haven’t thought through the location of where they are doing their learning,” Beavers said. “It might be because the concept is too difficult, and so then we’re going to backtrack, reteach and get them to where they are above the black line.”

Initially, there will be a lot of parent involvement and weekly conferences. Then as the students demonstrate they don’t need it, staff will begin to back away from those weekly conferences but will have data meetings.

“Once students have been shown the steps of how to do a new problem or concept, we do one together and talk about it,” Beavers said. “Once we think the student understands it, we release it for them to do on their own.”

When the student does the work independently, that becomes their homework, which is how they’re assessed.

“It’s ultimately through that process that we’re catching the people who aren’t getting it and provide support, intervention or whatever they might need to get them to that point to move forward,” Beavers said.

Then students are tested at the end of the series and should have a mastery of that before they move on.

Some of the initial tests, like chapter tests, students may be taking at home, but any end-of-course test or final will be taken at the OWL Tech building.

All state-mandated tests also will be proctored in person at the OWL Tech building.

“The OWL Tech students will also get electives, such as if Spanish is offered at the middle school or high school, our kids will have that option,” Beavers said. “They will also have health class and PE according to regulations, just as if they were in the brick and mortar, but it will be done through our program.”

Any student taking a vocational/CTE course must take this course in person.

If students wish to participate in band or choir, they may go to those classes at the brick-and-mortar buildings.

“If an eighth-grader wants to go on the Washington, D.C., trip or a high school student wants to attend prom, they can do so according to the same requirements as all of the other students,” Beavers said.

OWL Tech students may participate in all SCSC events, activities and clubs according to the normal requirements.

Should a student want to participate in Seymour athletics, the potential athlete must follow all of the guidelines, tryouts and other requirements of the team.

“Also, our kids are going to have a lunch option should they choose to do so, and lunch pickup will be arranged for distribution at Jackson Elementary,” Beavers said.

Upon enrollment, students have 10 school days to withdraw. After those first 10 days, the student is committed for an entire grading period (K-8) or semester (9-12).

If a student attending the brick-and-mortar school would like to switch to OWL Tech after the beginning of this school year, the first opportunity to do so will be at the end of the first nine-week grading period.

For the school year 2021-22, OWL Tech is only accepting enrollment from students living within the SCSC attendance boundaries.

Assistant Superintendent Lisa Ferguson said they hope to open enrollment to any student interested in a quality virtual education for school year 2022-23.

Students K-8 who have had no failing grades from the year before may apply to be a full-time OWL Tech virtual student.

Grades 9-12 must have maintained a 2.0 grade-point average and have no failing grades the year before entry or credit deficiencies may apply to be a full-time OWL Tech online student.

The registration application for OWL Tech may be filled out online at

The next enrollment window to apply for OWL Tech will be July 28 to Aug. 6. Also, OWL Tech representatives will have a booth set up at the Jackson County Fair.

For information, contact Beavers at [email protected] or call 812-523-6181.

[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”OWL Tech Staff” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

Program lead teacher (K-8) Kathy Beavers

General instruction (K-2) Tammy Hubbard

General instruction (3-5) Jami Franklin

Reading/social studies (6-8) Jessica Sons

Science/Math (6-8) Nathan Owen

English (9-12) Corey Zaring

Math (9-12) Ann Tormoehlen

Science (9-12) Rick Schuley

Social Studies (9-12) Eric Zakrzewski

Health/PE (9-12) Kirk Manns Jr.

Counselor (K-12) Kaitlyn Ude

Secretary (K-12) Carol McIntosh

Administrator (OWL Tech program) Shawn Mahoney


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