A hybrid classroom at Trinity-Pawling School

In late May, as students and faculty logged out of Zoom for the last time, Trinity-Pawling’s first-ever remote Spring Term came to a close. You could almost hear the collective sigh of relief. After three months of virtual learning due to COVID-19, the Trinity-Pawling community was reminded of something that they knew but took for granted: learning happens best when it happens in community. While this is true of all learning, it is particularly true in the case of Trinity-Pawling, where the relationships between the students and faculty and the availability of extra help are catalysts to the learning and growth processes. As a result, School leadership set their sights on reopening campus for in-person learning during the 2020 Fall Term and went to work.

“As a school, we are proud of how Trinity-Pawling responded to the COVID-19 challenge forced upon all schools this past spring and summer,” began Headmaster Bill Taylor. “Through creativity, disciplined hard work, and collaboration, the School worked to forge a safe, adaptable plan for students to return to campus, following all health and safety regulations associated with COVID-19.”

Now one month in, Trinity-Pawling’s first-ever hybrid Fall Term is off to a great start, with both in-person and remote learning. And it’s all thanks to the strategic planning and tireless efforts of Bryan Turner, Director of Technology, Bob Reilly, Makerspace Facilitator, and Roberta Lidl, Director of the Center for Learning Achievement. “The Fall Term was an entirely different ballgame,” Turner explained. “We were successful in the Spring as we pivoted to remote learning, but what works well for a stopgap is not always great for a long-term solution. We needed to design an in-person learning experience with remote learning components, for those students who could not be on campus.”

After much research and evaluation, Turner and Reilly installed a total of 44 Owl cameras in the Dann Building classrooms — devices that capture 360° video and audio for engaging and immersive remote learning. “The camera automatically shifts to focus on whoever is speaking. The result is an experience that nearly feels like sitting in the classroom,” Turner explained. “We also have 49″ displays providing a view of the remote students to the teacher and classmates alike. Everybody can see and interact with the entire class,” added Reilly. Toss in SmartBoards, Microsoft Teams and OneNote software, upgraded computers, and enhanced internet speed, and voila! The hybrid classrooms are ready for action.

“The cutting-edge design of our new hybrid classrooms not only differentiates the School; but more importantly, it promotes a sense of community, even from a distance,” Turner shared. “Our community is one of our strongest qualities at Trinity-Pawling. And now the technology on campus is aligned with our core value. It doesn’t get much better than that.”

Of course, the Fall Term has not come without a few hiccups; but Turner, Reilly, and Lidl continue to troubleshoot and adapt accordingly. In true Trinity-Pawling fashion, the community rises to each challenge, with patience and understanding, as they acclimate to this new form of learning.

As Turner, Reilly, and Lidl reflect on the whirlwind of 2020, they are especially grateful for the trust and support of the School community. “I believe that we have created a method of providing education that will outlast the current pandemic and benefit Trinity-Pawling students for years to come,” shared Reilly. “Seeing our vision come to life has been so rewarding,” added Turner. “It’s been a tough year, but I’m confident that we are providing a top-notch learning environment for our students.”

by Emma Christiantelli