CAST schools are a network of 5 partnership schools in three school districts. CAST Tech, CAST Med and the Advanced Learning Academy are based in the San Antonio Independent School District. CAST STEM is based in the Southwest Independent School District. Our newest partner, East Central Independent School District, is home to CAST Lead, which opens this August.
Superintendent Pedro Martinez (SAISD), Superintendent Lloyd Verstuyft (SWISD) and Superintendent Roland Toscano (ECISD) joined us for CAST LIVE, our virtual gathering place. CAST students and educators were able to ask each superintendent their questions, and hear school leaders’ reflections on the ways in which the pandemic will influence future learning.
Student Voice – The Moderator
The event was moderated by Jonathan Rodriguez, a CAST Tech Junior and current Marketing and Communications Intern for the CAST Schools Network.
When the decision was made to close schools to protect students, educators and their families from the COVID-19 virus, district leaders sprinted into action. Though schools were closed, learning continued. Distance Learning became the norm. Textbooks were replaced with devices. Classrooms were replaced by ZOOM meetings and Google Classroom sessions. What once was a 3-year strategy to connect every student and provide virtual learning options became a 3-week plan. Immediately educators revised their lesson plans to be able to provide them in a digital setting. In SAISD alone, 40,000 devices were sent to students, 3,000 hot spots were provided to families who needed a way to connect and over 1 million meals have been distributed to families in need.
“I’m an optimist, and I feel that together we’re going to come out of this a lot stronger. We’re going to get through this, and I just have a lot of pride for all the other things that our staff are doing and how we’re behaving during this pandemic.” – Superintendent Martinez
How our districts and educators have confronted change and pushed through ambiguity to continue to provide learning opportunities for students has been inspiring.
“I think we’re a resilient population of people. And not that we ever wanted to have to contend with a pandemic event, but we are doing that, and I think everyone is rising above the challenge.” – Superintendent Verstuyft
The pandemic has shifted priorities. Perspectives have expanded. What was unseen is now visible. Districts can emphasize improving operational efficiencies, closing the gaps in connectivity and inequities.
“Sometimes in life you can’t always control things that happen, but you can always control how you respond. And the fact that we are looking through that lens, we’re seeing so many possibilities for the future for our students and for the education community.” – Superintendent Toscano.
Click on the video to see the full discussion.
San Antonio Independent School District (SAISD) has been located in the heart of the city for more than 100 years and is Bexar County’s third-largest school district. Under the leadership of Superintendent Pedro Martinez, SAISD serves more than 50,000 students at more than 90 campuses.
Southwest Independent School District (SWISD) was established in 1951 to educate the rural population of Bexar County. The southwest region of the city has grown, and the district now serves nearly 14,000 students under the leadership of Superintendent Dr. Lloyd Verstuyft, who attended and graduated from schools in the very district where he now works.
East Central Independent School District (ECISD) was founded in 1949 with a mission to cultivate problem-solvers who are prepared to thrive in an interconnected world. The district serves more than 10,000 under the leadership of Superintendent Roland Toscano.
About CAST LIVE
CAST strives to reinvent schooling in order to maximize learning opportunities for their young learners. In this time when schools are physically closed for the remainder of the school year, the CAST promise of providing each student with authentic learning experiences continues. Through CAST LIVE we are providing connectedness in a time of social distancing and enriching the community in a time of ambiguity. CAST LIVE is a platform to share stories of hope and resilience. Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, we at CAST are confident that our students will be fully prepared to lead the way.