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Redefining Education

Principled leaders. Williamsburg Learning is on a mission to cultivate more of them. The organization’s unique and inspiring online curriculum and world-class mentors seek to challenge traditional notions of what education can and should be and to create a new model that is flexible, personal, empowering, and safe. Today, Williamsburg Learning has online schools in Utah and Colorado as well as several public charter schools.

Heidi Shetka, curriculum manager and IT support specialist at Williamsburg Learning, explained, “Our goal is to develop students who know how to think for themselves, who can come to the table and have meaningful, collaborative conversations. One of the ways we do that is by focusing on crafting transformational learning experiences, exposing students to new and different ideas, and encouraging them to discover the world and uncover those big ‘Aha!’ moments that are life-changing.”

Williamsburg Learning uses the term “mentor” rather than teacher or professional because it reflects the move away from teaching facts to providing tools and facilitating experiences that allow children to be responsible for their learning. The philosophy is appealing: the Utah school has a yearly waitlist and a new school in Colorado is projecting a 5X growth in students.

Flexible, Responsive, Visual

The team at Williamsburg Learning understood that to inform a new way of instruction, it would need useful information about the process. To share data about the curriculum and student progress, Williamsburg Learning engaged Grow, an Epicor solution. Shetka explained, “Grow helps to offer an intuitive visual display of dashboards and was priced right for a small organization. We also appreciated the flexibility of the solution and the responsive support.”

Shetka gave an example of that flexibility and responsiveness. Early on, she was managing 50 dashboards, one for each mentor. Based on her feedback, the Grow team developed a single dynamic dashboard that allows each mentor to drill down into their specific metrics. Shetka recalled, “It was an amazing day when that went into effect.”

She added, “Another benefit of the dynamic dashboard is that it reinforces confidence in the data. Before, with everyone accessing their own version, if they thought there was a mistake, it was hard to verify. Now, because we are all looking at a single source of truth, everyone has the assurance that the information is accurate.”

Data Drives Success

A key priority for Williamsburg Learning is the early identification of students that may be struggling and providing them with additional measures of support.

If data shows that a student is having trouble across the board, the Student Support Team steps in to help. Data tracked includes grades, attendance, and what interventions or accommodations have been attempted. “Grow has helped us identify at-risk students earlier and get them the right help sooner,” Shetka highlighted. “Administrators can access records to see what accommodations were already utilized. Everything about a student’s progress is there in one place.”

She continued, “For our self-paced learners, we know that those classes are harder to pass. We’ll use data to keep track of how they are doing and if they need to consider a live class for the next semester.” Shetka adjoined, “Likewise, because we know that kids who fall behind tend to stay behind, we have assignments that finish halfway through the semester, so the student is pushed to catch up before the gap becomes too wide.”

Grow has helped us identify at-risk students earlier and get them the right help sooner.

Williamsburg Learning created a new school in Colorado this year and found that most of the student body was struggling. For this site, Shetka deployed stricter attendance monitoring to check if the student logged in, how many minutes they were logged in, and which tasks they completed. She shared, “We use Grow accountability metrics in meetings with students weekly or monthly. Using this, we've been able to help some students who were failing, and now they are succeeding.”

Mentors also appreciate the speed and ease of accessing data off the dashboard. Instead of paging through a grade book, everything is on the dashboard, providing a clear and complete view of the student’s status with easy click-downs to necessary alerts and actions.

Unexpected Benefits

Data has also been crucial to the accreditation process. Accreditation is a form of certification by an independent body that verifies whether a school meets certain high standards.

Shetka described, “Now accreditation is easy for us and renewal is also straightforward because we can show progress. One of the things we hear over and over is that we have so much data. They’ve never seen another school that could easily show metrics as we can with Grow.”

Accreditation is always easy for us and renewal is also straightforward because we can show progress. One of the things we hear over and over is that we have so much data. They’ve never seen another school that could easily show metrics as we can with Grow.

Besides mentors and administration, other Williamsburg Learning teams also rely on Grow data. Sales in particular love the solution because any metric they ask for can be delivered. During the selling season, the group uses Grow, an Epicor solution to track application status and identify if there have been any lags in the process. “We can reach out to the parent to check in and see how we can help them complete the application,” Shetka imparted. Similarly, the communications team uses Grow information to engage with students and parents.

Initially, the value of Grow was underestimated by the Williamsburg Learning organization. “I don't think we expected to use Grow as much as we do,” Shetka admitted.

Freedom to Grow

One of the aspects of working at Williamsburg Learning that Shetka loves most is the ever-evolving work and opportunities. Using Grow has given her more freedom to take advantage of those prospects when they arise. “Grow has saved me a lot of time in terms of maintenance and fielding questions about dashboards,” she disclosed. “That’s given me the bandwidth to move into a new role. We would have needed to hire for that position, but I can manage Epicor and still can take on this opportunity.”

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