Expanding Opportunity and Overcoming Staffing Obstacles in a Rural Community
Williamsburg County School District, South Carolina
About the District
3,000+ students, 90.8% economically disadvantaged
Courseware, EdOptions Academy
Schools often serve as a centralized resource for the members of a community. They are a safe place where students are educated, fed, and looked after and a source of employment for many of the community’s adults. Leadership in the Williamsburg County School District in South Carolina, however, found that locating enough teachers to lead the classrooms of students who would be entering their buildings in the fall of 2022 nearly impossible. Because much of Williamsburg County is rural and economically disadvantaged, attracting new educators to the area can be difficult. One of the district’s precincts, Hemingway, was experiencing the greatest issue with finding educators to lead the classrooms. After a few unsuccessful attempts at discovering a solution to bring quality instruction to all students, Dr. Kelvin Wymbs, superintendent at Williamsburg, turned to Edmentum for help.
“We began a partnership in collaboration with Edmentum, basically, for survival purposes,” Dr. Wymbs explained. “We really didn’t know where it was going to lead, but I’ve had a number of successful opportunities with Edmentum, so I felt confident that we could make this happen.”
"We’ve found a spark and added something to our curricular offerings that rural communities have been struggling with...This has given us a solid solution to a problem that a lot of areas are struggling with, and we’re very confident about the future and about going forward.”
The partnership between the Williamsburg County School District and Edmentum took the shape of offering Enhanced Virtual Learning, which is live, on-camera virtual instruction for grades 6–12 delivered by a state-certified virtual teacher using Courseware curriculum. This model of instruction allowed the district not only to offer traditional courses but to also expand its course offerings, keeping students within the school buildings. Scheduling the classes supported by Edmentum’s virtual teachers followed the district’s bell schedule so that students could easily transition between classes led by in-person and virtual teachers as needed.
Students were supported by their virtual teacher of record and by an in-class district proctor. Proctors were able to provide classroom management, maintain communication with teachers and parents as needed, and assist students who needed extra attention to understand the material. Proctors were even available in the evenings to assist students who were working on schoolwork outside of traditional school hours.
While adjusting to this new method of instructional delivery did present itself with initial challenges, teachers, students, and parents were open to giving it a try. During the fall 2022 semester, 42 enhanced sections were taught by Edmentum’s virtual teachers within the school district.
“There was a little apprehension from our teachers, from our students, from our parents,” Dr. Wymbs said, “but once the Edmentum crew settled in, it was a really smooth transition—just some great work accomplished—very professional and top-quality staff. And I think that helped ease all of those initial fears and questions that we had at the beginning of our collaboration.”
Within a short time, the implementation expanded, and Edmentum’s virtual teachers were providing roughly 150 sessions each week across core classes, electives, and world languages. Because the teachers were virtual, some were teaching the same class in multiple buildings simultaneously, which allowed the district to use funds to expand class options. Beyond the delivery of the instruction, Edmentum’s virtual teachers partnered with district staff to communicate with all stakeholders via phone, messaging, emails, and videoconferencing. Teachers built a level of trust with students that enabled them not only to support academic achievement but also to meet the needs of the whole learner. Students taking the classes taught by virtual teachers were able to maintain a normal class schedule, take all the courses they needed, and still participate in extracurricular activities within the district.
Dr. Wymbs and his staff knew this type of instructional delivery would be different for students, but he found their adaptiveness to be positive, stating, “Because of the high quality of teachers that they had at their beck and call, that relaxed the students, and they concentrated on the task at hand—the instructional portion—and that made everything fall into place.”
As of spring 2023, the number of enhanced virtual sections offered increased to 57. By the end of the 2022–23 school year, almost 1,300 students across the district had taken an Enhanced Virtual Learning course with an 88 percent completion rate.
Dr. Wymbs commented on the district’s success, “We’re seeing a lot of data points that are trending upward, and we’re excited! Our community is excited! I think a big part of that success was the flexibility of using Edmentum, the quality of instruction that our scholars received from the Edmentum teachers, and just that first-class partnership.”
“We’ve found a spark and added something to our curricular offerings that rural communities have been struggling with,” Dr. Wymbs further explained. “In this day and age, especially in our community, we’ve got to start thinking outside the box and really start gravitating toward the needs of all of our individual students. Edmentum basically allows administrators to do that because a lot of the issues we’re dealing with now, you don’t learn about in class; they’re not in a textbook. This has given us a solid solution to a problem that a lot of areas are struggling with, and we’re very confident about the future and about going forward.”
Programs that Drive Success
Learn more about the programs used by this school community to achieve results.
Our virtual, human-centered instruction combines best-in-class K–12 learning technology with [state]-certified teachers to provide sustainable, in-district programs that grant every student a front-row seat to learning.
Digital curricula for grade 6 through adult learners help students reach graduation goals and beyond through flexible, personalized first-time credit, credit recovery, and expanded course access.
Courses & Curriculum