Leading Through a Pandemic: What Have We Learned?


We can say this past year was a year of lessons, often taught in rapid succession. In the case of Dr. Lori J. Simon, Superintendent of the Rapid City Area Schools, these lessons helped to innovate learning and create an improved learning environment for both teacher and student. According to Simon, “If there was ever a year to innovate, this certainly was the one. And quite honestly, we were forced to innovate more. Not that we didn't have a lot of good things happening as a result of our strategic plan, but we all were pushed out of our comfort zones this year. One of the things that I brought to the board for approval before the start of the school year was to delay the start of the school year until after Labor Day. And that enabled us to front load a lot of professional development and planning time for our teachers and our leaders, and that has helped a great deal.

“Many of our teachers, particularly at the elementary and middle school level are teaching distance learning sections above and beyond their normal Workday. And that's why our e-learning Fridays have been so critical, not only for that important planning time, but for zooming with those distance learning students, as well as having open office hours for the rest of their classes. Also on Friday, we implemented use of new Learning Management Systems at all levels. And we're continuing to streamline that work. Our Teaching Learning and Innovation Department put out clear expectations for consistency, regarding what should e-learning Fridays look like.”

Rapid City Are Schools has learned much from the pandemic, and they freely share those lessons in this video. It is interesting and fast-moving, and chock-full of lessons you can use in your own school or district.


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