Brian Benjamin and Chad Alward have been named directors of the Virtual Learning Academy for Owensboro Public Schools and Daviess County Public Scools, respectively.
OPS – Brian Benjamin
Benjamin will remain an assistant principal at Owensboro High School but will oversee the planning and implementation of the Virtual Academy curriculum as OPS plans to return to school.
“The pandemic is something that districts across the country are having to deal with and it is somewhat uncharted territory,” Benjamin said. “I look forward to the challenge of developing the Virtual Academy for our district and ensure that our students are getting quality instruction and demonstrating continued growth while learning from a distance.”
Staffing, curriculum and logistics are all elements that Benjamin will be in charge of coordinating as school is set to begin Aug. 24. Although plans are still being developed, priority for Virtual Academy staffing will be considered for fully certified staff first based on the individuals’ medical needs, a family medical need and finally preference without a medical need.
The anticipation is that there will be one instructor for each grade level who will provide live instruction to students through an online class management system and utilize tools available to the district to advance learning from a distance.
“Brian’s experience with technology and administration experience at all grade levels throughout his career makes him the perfect person to tackle this challenge,” OPS Superintendent Matthew Constant said. “Although we hope this is only a short-term solution, we need to be prepared to provide top-quality education to all our students until we can all be together in the classroom again.”
Those families interested in registering for the Virtual Academy can do so on the OPS website at owensboro.kyschools.us. They will be able to withdraw anytime before the start of school, but once they are in the Virtual Academy, they must remain there through the end of the semester.
The first day of school for both in-person and Virtual Academy for Owensboro Public Schools is scheduled for Aug. 24.
DCPS – Chad Alward
Alward, who has served as assistant principal at Daviess County High School for seven years, will oversee the Virtual Academy program for kindergarten through grade 8 and coordinate with high school virtual learning programs at DCPS.
He said his main responsibilities as Virtual Academy director will be focused on supports for students, teachers and families.
“My goal is to provide supports for the teachers and students while doing everything I can to help the team develop effective online instruction with high-quality lessons through a blended use of technology and traditional strategies,” he said.
Alward said the Virtual Academy experience offers tremendous potential.
“This is an opportunity for all of us to be a part of setting the standard of what an online school can look like and achieve … (As educators) we will have a large focus on building relationships with our families to ensure both student and teacher success is intentional, using high-quality curriculum and instructional supports,” he said.
Alward has an associate of arts degree from Owensboro Community & Technical College, a bachelor’s degree in music education from Western Kentucky University and a master’s degree in music education from Murray State University. He earned his Rank I in education leadership from WKU.
In addition to his most recent role as assistant principal at DCHS, Alward’s career has included teaching at the elementary and high school levels, overseeing instructional technology for the Ohio County Public Schools district and serving as principal at Deer Park Elementary School. He is a member of the U.S. Army Reserve, serving as commander of the 100th Army Band at Fort Knox.
DCPS assistant superintendent for teaching and learning Jana Beth Francis said they are fortunate to have someone like Alward in their district.
“He has the leadership experience to work with the virtual teachers on creating a high-quality learning environment for students in the Virtual Academy, as well as the technology ‘know how’ to navigate the challenges that we know will come with our first Virtual Academy,” she said. “Most importantly, Chad Alward has the aptitude needed to build a warm and caring community in the virtual world. I’m thrilled to have Chad on our team.”