Southwest Houston public charter school leader shares keys to a successful remote learning experience

HOUSTON – The Etoile Academy Charter School in southwest Houston hosted two weeks of teacher training before starting the semester with remote learning on Monday. The school’s founder and superintendent, Kaleigh Colombero, says the key to success is communication with families.

“We have a team of about six staff members who start calling students immediately if they aren’t online by 8:30 in the morning, reaching out to them as support,” Colombero said. “‘What’s going on? Can I help? Is there anything I can troubleshoot with? Is a link not working?‘”

More than 200 students are enrolled in the charter school. Each one is provided a Chromebook. Hot spots are handed out if they’re needed. Teachers and staff pride themselves on accessibility to the students and families they serve.

While structure is critical, Colombero said it is just as important for the students to have time away from their devices and makes sure their schedules are designed accordingly.

“We’ve built in morning activities, where they are on the computer. A break in the middle of the day to kind of work on course works and take some breaks as needed and then office hours in tutoring and even social clubs online in the afternoon,” Colombero said.

The school has been doing regular surveys with families, Colombero said. The most recent one showed the vast majority of students are going to stick with virtual learning once in-person instruction begins on Sept. 8.

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