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LAN senior officer shares perspectives on remote learning amid pandemic

03.24.2021 | By:
University headshot of new Leadership Academy network Senior Officer Priscila Dilley

Priscila Dilley, senior officer of Fort Worth’s Leadership Academy Network (LAN), a partnership between Fort Worth ISD and Texas Wesleyan University, shared her perspectives on sustaining education amid the pandemic as a panelist in a recent webinar entitled: “Schools that Excelled During the Pandemic: How and Why They Pivoted Effectively to Remote Learning,” presented by the Progressive Policy Institute, a public policy think tank.

In her role with the LAN, Dilley leads an innovative school transformation effort designed to sustain academic success at five previously underperforming Fort Worth ISD elementary and middle schools. Dilley also supported the district’s initial launch of the Leadership Academy model, designed to support highly effective educators, create a heightened focus on daily academic mastery and provide additional opportunities for students with an extended school day, among other benefits. Established in 2019, the LAN maintains Fort Worth ISD’s initial approach while leveraging the institutional resources of the Texas Wesleyan School of Education.

LAN schools include the Leadership Academies at Como Elementary, John T. White Elementary, Maude I. Logan Elementary, Mitchell Boulevard Elementary and Forest Oak Middle schools.

The full webinar featuring Dilley and her two fellow panelists can be viewed online.

Key takeaways from Dilley’s presentation include:

  • Autonomy created by the partnership enabled LAN leaders to be nimble in responding to the academic needs of students, once pandemic conditions made in-person learning impossible, Dilley explained. “We were able to quickly design our virtual learning platform. We essentially established pillars to address engagement, SEL and content.”
  • From there, Dilley said, the LAN worked to find the most effective ways to align staff with the aims and needs of virtual learning. “All of our non-classroom positions, such as data analyst, behavior specialist or instructional coach, really changed. It was all about supporting kids, teachers through this process.”
  • As virtual learning progressed, adaptation was crucial, Dilley continued. “As we kept going through the year, we kept finding things we needed to rework,” Dilley explained. Many of those changes addressed making logins and other processes as efficient as possible to benefit both students and parents.
  • While all of that was challenging, virtual learning also presented more opportunities to develop relationships with students’ parents because interactions did not require face-to-face conversations. “We’ve seen the percentage of engagement with families go up,” Dilley said.
  • On average, the LAN campuses are now at 70% capacity for in-person learning, Dilley continued. The lessons learned during virtual instruction, though, continue to benefit the LAN. “We see how our teachers have worked so hard and have learned valuable lessons about blended learning and how it can be a positive experience for our kids,” Dilley said.

Dilley was also recently featured in the Texas Wesleyan 2021 Women in Leadership Forum, where she shared insights on the challenges her team has faced and embraced over the past year.

In a career that spans nearly two decades in education, Dilley has helped revamp challenged schools and offer new educational opportunities for students. She says the pandemic has been a test for all educators, but the lessons learned in the process will likely enhance the way we deliver resources to students and families far into the future.